Young Noah Adler, passionate, ruthlessly idealistic, is the prodigal son of Montreal’s Jewish ghetto. Finding tradition in league with self-delusion, he attempts to shatter the ghetto’s illusory walls by entering the foreign territory of the goyim. But here, freedom and self-determination continue to elude him. Eventually, Noah comes to recognize “justice and safety and a kind of felicity” in a world he cannot – entirely – leave behind. Richler’s superb account of Noah’s struggle to scale the walls of the ghetto overflows with rich comic satire. Son of a Smaller Hero is a compassionate, penetrating account of the nature of belonging, told with the savage realism for which Mordecai Richler’s fiction is celebrated.
When his parents return from Kenya with a cute little green lizard on his eighth birthday (he’s two times two times two), Jacob Two-Two is thrilled. But it isn’t long before Jacob realizes that his new pet Dippy isn’t a lizard after all. And as months pass, it is apparent Dippy isn’t so little either. Soon Dippy is attracting all sorts of unwanted attention and before he knows it, Jacob is on the run from the Canadian government with a full-grown dinosaur to hide.
From the Hardcover edition.
The first book to be set in the new Richler typeface, commissioned by Random House of Canada Limited and Jack Rabinovitch in memory of Mordecai.
Mordecai Richler’s final book pays homage to his personal heroes and celebrates a writer’s love of sport with his trademark irascibility, humour and acuity.
Even while writing his bestselling novels, Mordecai Richler nurtured his obsession with sports, writing brilliantly on ice hockey, baseball, salmon fishing, bodybuilding, and wrestling for such publications as GQ, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Inside Sports, Commentary, and The New York Review of Books. Mordecai himself chose the pieces to include in Dispatches from the Sporting Life, and together they give us an intimate portrait of a man who admired the players and prized the struggle of sport -- as much as he enjoyed skewering those who made a mockery of its principles.
His encounters with Pete Rose, Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe (“Mr. Elbows…the big guy with the ginger-ale bottle shoulders”) are by turns bizarre, moving and uproarious. Richler travelled with Guy LaFleur’s Montreal Canadiens (“Les Canadiens sont là!”), but also with the “far-from-incomparable” Trail Smoke Eaters to Stockholm for the world hockey championships, where Canadians are “widely known, and widely disliked.”
There are wonderful pieces here about Ring Lardner, George Plimpton, Hank Greenberg and lady umpires, and a marvellous essay on his unlimited enthusiasm for the all-inclusive Encyclopedia of Jews in Sports, which includes among its champions Sandy Koufax, “who may well be the greatest pitcher of all time, regardless of race, colour or creed,” as well as one Steve Allan Hertz, an infielder who played five total games in Houston in 1964 and had a batting average of .000.
From the Hardcover edition.
Living in a rat-infested hotel in Franco’s post-war Spain, André Bennett, a Canadian painter, loves Toni, his girl friend, who wants him to return home. Roger Kraus, a Nazi on the run, shadows the young artist day and night. They meet on a bridge during the last night of the fiesta, and as the sky is shredded by exploding fireworks, the story draws to its violent climax. Originally published in 1954, The Acrobats marks Mordecai Richler’s stunning debut as a novelist.
Just as Jacob Two-Two settles into his new life in Canada, things are turned upside down! First, Jacob gets a new neighbor, who does double duty as a spy; then he gets a new principal, who turns out to be mean and nasty; and then, unknowingly, he makes an enemy – but who could it be? Jacob Two-Two returns in this new adventure that takes him into the fascinating world of spycraft!
From the Hardcover edition.
Poor Jacob Two-Two. Not only must he say everything twice just to be heard over his four brothers and sisters, but he finds himself the prisoner of the dreaded Hooded Fang. What had he done to deserve such a punishment? The worst crime of all – insulting a grown-up! Although he’s small, Jacob is not helpless, especially when The Infamous Two come to his aid.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Joshua Then and Now is about Joshua Shapiro today, and the Joshua he was. His father a boxer turned honest crook, his mother an erotic dancer whose greatest performance was at Joshua’s bar mitzvah, Joshua has overcome his inauspicious beginnings in the Jewish ghetto of Montreal to become a celebrated television writer and a successful journalist. But Joshua, now middle-aged, is not a happy man. Incapacitated by a freak accident, anguished by the disappearance of his WASP wife, and caught up in a sex scandal, Joshua is besieged by the press and tormented by the ghosts of his youth. Set in Montreal, the novel chronicles the rocky journey we all make between the countries of the past and the present. Raucous, opinionated, tender, Joshua Then and Now is a memorable excursion into Mordecai Richler's comic universe.
Berger, son of the failed poet L.B. Berger, is in the grips of an obsession. The Gursky family with its colourful bootlegging history, its bizarre connections with the North and the Inuit, and its wildly eccentric relations, both fascinates and infuriates him. His quest to unravel their story leads to the enigmatic Ephraim Gursky: document forger in Victorian England, sole survivor of the ill-fated Franklin expedition and charasmatic religious leader of the Arctic. Of Ephraim's three grandsons, Bernard has fought, wheeled and cheated his way to the head of a liquor empire. His brother Morrie has reluctantly followed along. But how does Ephraim's protege, Solomon, fit in? Elusive, mysterious and powerful, Solomon Gursky hovers in the background, always out of Moses' grasp, but present-like an omen.
In this beguiling collection of short stories and memoirs, first published in 1969, Mordecai Richler looks back on his childhood in Montreal, recapturing the lively panorama of St. Urbain Street: the refugees from Europe with their unexpected sophistication and snobbery; the catastrophic day when there was an article about St. Urbain Street in Time; Tansky’s Cigar and Soda with its “beat-up brown phonebooth” used for “private calls”; and tips on sex from Duddy Kravitz.
Overflowing with humour, nostalgia, and wisdom, The Street is a brilliant introduction to Richler’s lifelong love-affair with St. Urbain Street and its inhabitants.
In the swinging culture of sixties’ London, Canadian Mortimer Griffin is a beleaguered editor adrift in a sea of hypocrisy and deceit. Alone in a world where nobody shares his values but everyone wants the same things, Mortimer must navigate the currents of these changing times. Richler’s eccentric cast of characters include the gorgeous Polly, who conducts her life as though it were a movie, complete with censor-type cuts at all the climactic moments; Rachel Coleman, slinky Black Panther of the boudoir; Star Maker, the narcissistic Hollywood tycoon who has discovered the secret of eternal life; and a precocious group of school children with a taste for the teachings of the Marquis de Sade. Cocksure is a savagely funny satire on television, movies, and the entertainment industry. This is Mordecai Richler at his most caustic and wicked best.
A colony of Canadian and American writers and filmmakers, exiled by McCarthyist witch-hunts at home, find themselves in London, England, where they evolve a society every bit as merciless, destructive, and close-minded as that from which they have fled. The bonds of the group are strained when Norman Price, an academic turned hack writer, befriends an enigmatic German refugee. Ostracized by his colleagues, Norman soon perceives how easily conviction devolves into tyranny. Believing that “all alliances are discredited,” he enters a moral nightmare in which his choice of enemies is no longer clear. With relentless irony and biting accuracy, Mordecai Richler maps out a surreal territory of doubt, describing not only one man’s personal dilemma but the moral condition of modern society.
From the Paperback edition.
Ebullient and perverse, thrice married, Barney Panofsky has always clung to two cherished beliefs: life is absurd and nobody truly ever understands anybody else. But when his sworn enemy publicly states that Barney is a wife abuser, an intellectual fraud and probably a murderer, he is driven to write his own memoirs. Charged with comic energy and a wicked disregard for any pieties whatsoever, Barney's Version is a brilliant portrait of a man whom Mordecai Richler has made uniquely memorable for all time. It is also an unforgettable love story, a story about family and the riches of friendship.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Long considered one of Mordecai Richler’s most beloved and acclaimed novels, St. Urbain’s Horseman has now been adapted into a high-profile two-part CBC drama. The attention this star-studded and heavily promoted mini-series will receive will renew interest in the book among Richler fans and introduce many new readers to this modern classic, now available in this attractive tie-in edition.
St. Urbain’s Horseman is a complex, moving, and wonderfully comic evocation of a generation consumed with guilt – guilt at not joining every battle, at not healing every wound. Thirty-seven-year-old Jake Hersh is a film director of modest success, a faithful husband, and a man in disgrace. His alter ego is his cousin Joey, a legend in their childhood neighbourhood in Montreal. Nazi-hunter, adventurer, and hero of the Spanish Civil War, Joey is the avenging horseman of Jake’s impotent dreams. When Jake becomes embroiled in a scandalous trial in London, England, he puts his own unadventurous life on trial as well, finding it desperately wanting as he steadfastly longs for the Horseman’s glorious return. Irreverent, deeply felt, as scathing in its critique of social mores as it is uproariously funny, St. Urbain’s Horseman confirms Mordecai Richler’s reputation as a pre-eminent observer of the hypocrisies and absurdities of modern life.
From Mordecai Richler, one of our greatest satirists, comes one of literature's most delightful characters, Duddy Kravitz -- in a novel that belongs in the pantheon of seminal twentieth century books.
Duddy -- the third generation of a Jewish immigrant family in Montreal -- is combative, amoral, scheming, a liar, and totally hilarious. From his street days tormenting teachers at the Jewish academy to his time hustling four jobs at once in a grand plan to "be somebody," Duddy learns about living -- and the lesson is an outrageous roller-coaster ride through the human comedy. As Richler turns his blistering commentary on love, money, and politics, The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz becomes a lesson for us all...in laughter and in life.
Transplanted to Toronto from his native Baffin Island, Atuk the poet is an unlikely overnight success. Eagerly adapting to a society steeped in pretension, bigotry, and greed, Atuk soon abandons the literary life in favour of more lucrative – and hazardous – schemes.
Richler’s hilarious and devastating satire lampoons the self-deceptions of “the Canadian identity” and derides the hypocrisy of a nation that seeks cultural independence by slavishly pursuing the American dream.
From the Paperback edition.