Feature

Novel of the week: The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart

This novel is “pure literature,” a Greek tragedy set in a corner of Texas that Machart has made unforgettable, said Susan Salter Reynolds in the Los Angeles Times.

(Houghton Mifflin, $26)

Bruce Machart’s debut novel is “a tragic family saga in the Faulknerian tradition of sins long simmering and revenge gone wrong,” said William J. Cobb in The Dallas Morning News. The story opens in the 1890s on a night when Vaclav Skala, a Czech immigrant turned Texas farmer, loses his wife in childbirth. The infant, Karel, survives, only to endure a childhood in which he’s treated as chattel by his embittered father. As Karel becomes the novel’s protagonist, his father’s “curse of anger” becomes an inheritance he needs to resolve.

The impeccable prose of Machart’s novel suggests he’ll be no one-hit wonder, said Susan Salter Reynolds in the Los Angeles Times. At his best, Machart writes as if he were “some kind of enormous, sensory radar, picking up the sound of twigs as they fall through the blackjack oaks, the cries of possums carried off by barred owls, the way a foot slides into a stirrup.” This novel is “pure literature,” a Greek tragedy set in a corner of Texas that Machart has made unforgettable.

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