Trash Talk

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


By Rafi Kohan

Formats and Prices




$39.00 CAD

In the age of hot takes and trolling, this expansive and funny study of the art and science of trash talk reveals something essential about public life–and even human nature.

In the modern economy and culture, fame and virality have become increasingly difficult to separate from success. From athletes to comedians to politicians to big-ticket CEOs, everyone seemingly has to manage their brand. Saying the wrong thing is often more profitable than saying the right one. We are all, it seems, engaged in a giant insult comedy roast, even when we don't want to be.

The tradition of talking trash goes back to ancient Greece, and is not always innocent fun. Who gets to do it to whom, how, and when? In this energetic and wide-ranging book, Rafi Kohan takes the measure of this sneakily important practice. Talking to historians, athletes, comedians, and more, he describes what they do and why they do it, and also asks why it's so central to the human experience. From military stress tests at Fort Bragg to the basketball court to the Jeff Ross Roast Battle, he writes about what's funny and what's mean, where the line is, and the consequences–sometimes severe–of crossing it.

Trash Talk is full of good jokes and bad jokes, name-calling and moralizing. But it's also belonging, freedom, and how to live with other people. 


On Sale
Dec 5, 2023
Page Count
336 pages

Rafi Kohan

About the Author

Rafi Kohan is an Atlanta-based writer and editor, and currently the head of editorial for the Atlantic's creative studio Re:think. His previous book, The Arena, was a finalist for the 2018 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing. The Wall Street Journal's review of the book dubbed him the "Studs Terkel of stadium life." Previously, Kohan served as deputy editor at New York Observer, where he wrote a variety of long-form feature and cover stories. His writing has also appeared in numerous outlets and publications, including GQ (where he worked for five years), Men's JournalThe Wall Street JournalTown & Country, SlateRolling StoneThe RingerESPNViceLos Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.

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