Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Richard Russo  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1949 in Johnstown, New York

-- Richard Russo on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Formerly from Carbondale, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Richard Russo was teaching in the English department at Southern Illinois University Carbondale when his first novel, Mohawk was published.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

ISBN: 0679753826

Vintage. 1994

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, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, 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.

The Risk Pool
ISBN: 0679753834

Vintage. 1994

A wonderfully funny, perceptive novel The Risk Pool is set in Mohawk, New York, where Ned Hall is doing his best to grow up, even though neither of his estranged parents can properly be called adult.

His father, Sam, cultivates bad habits so assiduously that he is stuck at the bottom of his auto insurance risk pool. His mother, Jenny, is slowly going crazy from resentment at a husband who refuses either to stay or to stay away. As Ned veers between allegiances to these grossly inadequate role models, Richard Russo gives us a book that overflows with outsized characters and outlandish predicaments and whose vision of family is at once irreverent and unexpectedly moving.

In the traditions of Thornton Wilder and Anne Tyler, The Risk Pool was hailed by The New York Times as “…superbly original and maliciously funny. Russo proves himself a master at evoking the sights, feelings, and smells of a town.”

Nobody's Fool
ISBN: 0739306936

Random House Audio. 2003

In his slyly funny and moving new novel, the author of The Risk Pool follows the unexpected operation of grace in a deadbeat, upstate New York town--and in the lives of the unluckiest of its citizens. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Paul Newman, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith, and Jessica Tandy. Author reading tour.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

The Collected Stories of Richard Yates
ISBN: 0413771261

Methuen Publishing Ltd. 2004

Richard Yates was one of the most powerful, compassionate, and technically accomplished writers of America's post-war generation. His work inspired writers such as Richard Ford, Andre Dubus, Robert Stone, and Kurt Vonnegut, and his 1961 novel, Revolutionary Road, is an acknowledged classic of American literature. This volume contains the entirety of Yates's peerless short fiction, including the stories from his collections Eleven Kinds of Loneliness (hailed by The New York Times Book Review as "the New York equivalent of Dubliners") and Liars in Love. This superb collection also offers nine new stories, seven of which have never before been published. Whether addressing the smothered desire of suburban housewives, the white-collar despair of Manhattan office workers, the grim humour that attends life on a tuberculosis ward, or the heartbreak of a single mother with artistic pretensions, Yates ruthlessly examines every frayed corner and tear in the American dream. Published with a moving introduction by the novelist Richard Russo, The Collected Stories of Richard Yates will stand as its author's final masterpiece.

Empire Falls
ISBN: 0307275132

Vintage. 2005

With Empire Falls Richard Russo cements his reputation as one of America’s most compelling and compassionate storytellers.

Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it’s Janine, Miles’ soon-to-be ex-wife, who’s taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it’s the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town–and seems to believe that “everything” includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.

The Whore's Child: Stories
ISBN: 0375726012

Vintage. 2003

To this irresistible debut collection of short stories, Richard Russo brings the same bittersweet wit, deep knowledge of human nature, and spellbinding narrative gifts that distinguish his best-selling novels. His themes are the imperfect bargains of marriage the discoveries and disillusionments of childhood the unwinnable battles men and women insist on fighting with the past.

A cynical Hollywood moviemaker confronts his dead wife’s lover and abruptly realizes the depth of his own passion. As his parents’ marriage disintegrates, a precocious fifth-grader distracts himself with meditations on baseball, spaghetti, and his place in the universe. And in the title story, an elderly nun enters a college creative writing class and plays havoc with its tidy notions of fact and fiction. The Whore’s Child is further proof that Russo is one of the finest writers we have, unsparingly truthful yet hugely compassionate and capable of creating characters real that they seem to step off the page.

The Bridge of Sighs: Library Edition
ISBN: 1602527253

Random House. 2007

Interventions: A Novella & Three Stories
ISBN: 1608931854

Down East. 2012

In what many perceive as a coldly relentless digital age, Pulitzer-prize winning author Richard Russo has teamed up with his daughter, artist Kate Russo, to present this tribute to the printed book. This handsome and inventive format—four individually bound volumes gathered in a slipcase—combines the previously unpublished novella “Intervention” with three shorter works, two of which have not been published in book form.

The four tales in Interventions crackle with Russo’s perceptive wit and unwavering compassion for the human condition. In the title novella, self-obsessed realtor Ray must confront his own mortality and doesn’t seem especially interested in winning the battle. A surprising revelation about his father and uncle, however, and his realization of an unlikely friendship lead him to believe he just might like to stick around. “Horseman” explores the complexities of a young professor’s marriage and academic life, and “The Whore’s Child” negotiates the not-always-clear line between fact and fiction. The final piece, “High and Dry,” is Russo’s paean to the heyday of his hometown, Gloversville, New York.

Each of the four volumes is paired with a small, full-color print of a painting by Kate Russo. Printed in the United States on the finest sustainably harvested papers, the set is as much a joy to hold in the hand as it is to read.


Pulitzer Prize (Fiction)

, for Empire Falls, 2002

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (No)

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