(US, 1949– )
Richard Russo grew up in the small, mostly working-class town of Gloversville, New York, and his fiction tends to emphasize the effects of class on American life. Although the tone of his work can be one of heartbreak and despair, it is always buffeted by a generous and affable humour. Empire Falls (2001; Pulitzer Prize 2002), a rich, sprawling, and ambitious novel, tells the story of Miles Roby, manager of the Empire Grill and father to Tick, one of the most endearing teenagers in contemporary fiction. Divorced by his wife, devoted to his daughter, Miles tries to imagine a future for Tick that defies the patterns of his own life. Nobody's Fool (1993, later made into a film starring Paul Newman) perfectly captures the rhythms of small-town life, and presents characters so real, you'll miss them once you finish the book. For a slight change of pace, pick up Straight Man (1997), a hilarious academic satire that ought to make anyone's Russo reading list.
Larry McMurtry, John Irving, Richard Ford AS