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Richard Russo

Author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Empire Falls and Everybody's Fool

  • About Richard Russo

    Richard Russo knows small-town America. This masterful novelist has an uncanny sense of the way life works in the gritty industrial towns of the American Northeast. From the gossip and the resentments to the people and the cafes, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Richard Russo chronicles blue-collar America in ways constantly surprising and utterly revealing.

    Russo’s previous works include seven novels, one collection of short stories, and a memoir. His 2001 novel, Empire Falls, won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was also adapted into an HBO miniseries, starring Paul Newman, Ed Harris, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Helen Hunt. His latest novel, Everybody’s Fool, revisits the characters of North Bath, NY from his earlier novel Nobody’s Fool. Russo’s most recent book, The Destiny Thief, a collection of essays, published in 2017.

    Russo earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s in fine arts, and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. He has two daughters and lives with his wife in Camden, Maine.

  • Speaking Topics

    An Evening with Richard Russo

    Pulitzer Prize-winner Russo discusses his novels, short stories, and the character development, writing, and editing process behind his work.


    In this talk, Russo examines the concept of destiny—the end of a journey that, for all of us, must begin with home.


    In this lecture, Russo discusses his hometown of Gloversville, New York, as the source of fictional towns in his works (Mohawk, North Bath, Empire Falls, and Thomaston). In doing so, he sheds light on every writer's least favorite question: where does he get his ideas from?


    In this lecture, Russo traces the source of humor in general, and of his own humor in particular, to an unlikely source: pain.

  • Video

  • Praise for Richard Russo


    “The event was a huge success! Rick’s presentation was absolutely excellent. The audience was highly attentive the entire time Rick spoke; there was not a stir.  Rick was generous in taking quite a number of questions afterwards. I heard comments such as, this was the best event in the series ever–it was in its 26th year, so this means a lot.”

    Warren Wilson College

    Our audience of nearly 800 was thrilled to hear from one of their favorite writers and were charmed by his wit, humor and humility. It was a completely enjoyable experience to bring Richard Russo to our community and he was generous with his attention to fans, sponsors, and the media.

    Cuyahoga County Public Library

    There is a big, wry heart beating at the center of Russo’s fiction.

    The New Yorker

    Nobody does small-town life better than Richard Russo.

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Russo is one of the best novelists around.

    New York Times Book Review

    Praise for The Destiny Thief

    Russo’s colorful book offers his novel’s fans more of his dazzling and moving writing, often revealing glimpses of forces that drive a bestselling fiction writer.

    Publishers Weekly

    For aspiring writers, Russo’s musings on the art and craft of the novel are a trove of knowledge and guidance. For adoring readers, they are a window into the imagination and inspiration for Russo’s beloved novels, screenplays, and short stories. . . . Few authors seem as approachable in print and, one suspects, in person as acclaimed novelist Russo.


    Certain to please anyone familiar with his short fiction and novels. . . . The unselfconscious voice threading through these nine explorations of writing, writers, and everyday life is a welcome alternative to the all-too-common introspection and fraught ‘literariness’ found in many recent memoir and essay collections from prominent authors. Readers seeking a deeply insightful record of the creative process and the life guiding it will find resonance here.

    Library Journal (starred)

    Splendid. . . . These are wise, personal pieces, and readers get to know the author as a comforting, funny, and welcoming guy.


    All-encompassing. . . . Anyone in search of an eye-opening series of essays by a distinguished writer about writing and the writing life need look no further.

    Robert Allen Papinchak, The National Book Review

    It turns out that Russo the nonfiction writer is a lot like Russo the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. He is affably disagreeable, wry, idiosyncratic, vulnerably bighearted, a craftsman of lubricated sentences.

    Jay Fielden, New York Times Book Review

    Praise for Everybody’s Fool

    A madcap romp, weaving mystery, suspense and comedy in a race to the final pages.

    Jennifer Maloney, The Wall Street Journal

    How could twenty-three years have slipped by since Nobody’s Fool? . . . Russo is probably the best writer of physical comedy that we have [but] even the zaniest elements of the story are interspersed with episodes of wincing cruelty. . . . The abiding wonder [is that] Russo’s novel bears down on two calamitous days and exploits the action in every single minute . . . mudslides, grave robbery, collapsing buildings, poisonous snakes, drug deals, arson, lightning strikes and toxic goo. North Bath is a sleepy little town that never sleeps [and] no tangent ever feels tangential.

    Ron Charles, The Washington Post

    A delightful return . . . to a town where dishonesty abounds, everyone misapprehends everyone else and half the citizens are half-crazy. It’s a great place for a reader to visit, and it seems to be Russo’s spiritual home.

    Janet Maslin, The New York Times

    The Fool books represent an enormous achievement, creating a world as richly detailed as the one we step into each day of our lives. . . . Sully in particular emerges as one of the most credible and engaging heroes in recent American fiction. . . . Bath is real, Sully is real, and so is Hattie’s and the White Horse Tavern and Miss Peoples’s house on Main, and I can only hope we haven’t seen the last of them. I’d love to see what Sully’s going to be up to at 80.

    T. Coraghessan Boyle, The New York Times Book Review

    I was holding my breath for fear Everybody's Fool wouldn’t live up to its predecessor, but I shouldn't have worried. As good as Russo was in 1993, he’s even better now. And Everybody’s Fool is a delight [with] enough bizarre events, startling revelations, unlikely heroes and touching moments to supply a dozen small towns . . . He is also a master of plotting, from cliffhangers to twists that deftly link apparently unrelated threads. This book’s tone is largely comic, but Russo writes with uncommon insight about love, families and friendship.

    Collette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times
  • Books by Richard Russo

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  • Richard Russo travels from Camden, ME

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