Synopses & Reviews
Originally published in 1986 in the Vintage Contemporaries paperback series—and reissued now in hardcover alongside his masterful new novel, Empire Falls
—Richard Russo’s Mohawk
remains today as it was described then: A first novel with all the assurance of a mature writer at the peak of form and ambition, Mohawk
is set in upstate New York and chronicles over a dozen lives in a leather town, long after the tanneries have started closing down. Ranging over three generations—and clustered mainly in two clans, the Grouses and the Gaffneys—these remarkably various lives share only the common human dilemmas and the awesome physical and emotional presence of Mohawk itself.
For this is a town like Winesburg, Ohio or Our Town, in our time, that encompasses a plethora of characters, events and mysteries. At once honestly tragic and sharply, genuinely funny, Mohawk captures life, then affirms it.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
"Russo is a master craftsman....The blue-collar heartache at the center of his fiction has the sheen of Dickens but the epic levity of John Irving." The Boston Globe
"Movingly dramatizes an older, innocent way of life...brisk, colorful, and often witty." The New York Times Book Review
"Richard Russo [is] a masterful storyteller with a mission: to chronicle with insight and compassion the day-to-day life of small-town America...alternating episodes of boisterous humor with moments of heart-wrenching pathos....His characters are wholly sympathetic, but they are also human." The Houston Chronicle
"Russo writes clearly and without affectation...telling his elaborate tale with affection." Chicago Tribune
"After the last sentence is read, the reader continues to see Russo's tender, messed-up people coming out of doorways, lurching through life. And keeps on seeing them because they are as real as we are." E. Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News
Mohawk, New York, is one of those small towns that lie almost entirely on the wrong side of the tracks. Its citizens, too, have fallen on hard times. Dallas Younger, a star athlete in high school, now drifts from tavern to poker game, losing money, and, inevitably, another set of false teeth. His ex-wife, Anne, is stuck in a losing battle with her mother over the care of her sick father. And their son, Randall, is deliberately neglecting his school work because in a place like Mohawk it doesn't pay to be too smart.
In Mohawk, Richard Russo explores these lives with profound compassion and flint-hard wit. Out of derailed ambitions and old loves, secret hatreds and communal myths, he has created a richly plotted, densely populated, and wonderfully written novel that captures every nuance of America's backyard.
About the Author
Richard Russo in 1986. His novels The Risk Pool, Nobodys Fool and Straight Man are available in Vintage paperback. He now lives in coastal Maine with his wife and their two daughters.