Trash Talk

The Only Book About Destroying Your Rivals That Isn’t Total Garbage


By Rafi Kohan

Formats and Prices




$39.00 CAD

“You’re mad at me, but I am killing you.”—NBA star Gary Payton
“Find the hate.”—NFL star Warren Sapp
“Why can’t you be more like Rafi Kohan?”—your mom, probably

Whether in basketball, football, or MMA, athletes talk trash to each other—and sometimes to fans—like it’s their job. And in some ways, it is: sports only matter if we decide to care about them. And insulting your opponent, or playing the heel, is probably the fastest route to making someone care. Talking smack is as old as the bible; it’s perhaps the original sport.

But until now, there’s never been a book about it.
In this lively, often hilarious history, Rafi Kohan interviews some of the world’s top competitors—on the petty rivalries and mind games that fuel them. He talks to point guards and soccer strikers, cricketers and insult comedians, forming a theory along the way about the surprising and influential role that name-calling plays in our world.
Brilliantly original and wide-ranging, Trash Talk is a book for sports fans, culture mavens, or anyone looking to get an edge.


  • Rafi Kohan has done more than produce a funny, insightful, and beautifully written primer on American culture masquerading as a book about sports. He makes you want to hear the games we love rather than merely watch them.
    Seth Wickersham, New York Times–bestselling author and senior writer, ESPN
  • The metaphor ‘trash,’ inherent to the phrase ‘trash talk,’ can be misleading. ‘Trash’ implies something disposable; easily discarded; in a word, garbage. Yet there is nothing disposable about Kohan’s new book. Quite the opposite. Trash Talk recognizes the verbal art form of psychological warfare that this misunderstood practice has always represented.
    Todd Boyd, chair for the Study of Race and Popular Culture, USC
  • There are two kinds of trash talkers: overcompensating fools and tactical geniuses. Kohan’s Trash Talk will teach you the difference between the two. It’s like a CPR course for saving face. This book is informative and very, very funny.
    Anthony Jeselnik
  • Well, finally, a book that actually probes the single most important part of all sports: the God-given right to talk crazy shit to anyone you or your chosen proxies defeat. You suck if you don’t buy this book.
    Wright Thompson, New York Times-bestselling author of Pappyland
  • Your mama not only wears combat boots, but she says Trash Talk is the best book on the planet. Which it may well be. A joyful, adventurous read that’ll leave you screaming, ‘Bro, you can’t guard me!’ Bravo.
    Jeff Pearlman, New York Times–bestselling author
  • “Kohan’s nuanced inquiry highlights trash talk’s surprisingly diverse applications, and he’s never less than entertaining (“To call it dark humor would be a disservice to Pantone charts everywhere,” Kohan writes of the withering insults at a comedy roast). This is a blast.”
    Publishers Weekly
  • “An entertaining study of the taunts and insults that pervade sports and the larger culture… A treat for students of language, as well as would-be Don Rickles heirs looking to hone their craft.”

On Sale
Dec 5, 2023
Page Count
336 pages

Rafi Kohan

About the Author

Rafi Kohan is an Atlanta-based writer and editor. His first book, The Arena, was a finalist for the 2018 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing. Previously, he has served as deputy editor at the New York Observer and as executive editorial director for the Atlantic’s creative studio, Re:think. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including GQ, Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, The Ringer, and the Wall Street Journal.

Learn more about this author