The Wake of Forgiveness, Bruce Machart

New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
Wall Street Journal's Best Novels by Men 2010
Vanity Fair “Hot Type” 
Amazon’s Top 10 Debut Fiction of 2010: 
Amazon’s Best 100 books of 2010
Barnes and Noble Year’s Best List, 2010
NPR Here and Now Best Books for Fall
Winner of the Texas Institute of Letters Prize for debut fiction

A Best Seller in France
20,000 books printed
3 national television shows
3 national radio interviews
More than 20 reviews in newspapers and magazines

The Wake of Forgiveness is a tale of family bonds and unrestrained ambition, firmly rooted in the hardscrabble landscape of Texas.  In 1910, Vaclav Skala, seeking to fill the void left by his wife’s death, has begun to wheedle acres of power from his neighbors through a series of land-staked horse races. With Skala’s son Karel in the saddle, these races fall largely in the Skala family’s favor until the emergence of an unrelenting new rival.

As the onset of the Mexican Revolution pushes prosperous Spanish landowners across the border to take refuge (and preserve their wealth) east of the Rio Grande, Guillermo Villaseñor arrives with the wealth and willfulness to establish himself as the county’s most influential landowner. He also introduces the Skala boys to his three daughters, and a doomed romance is born between Karel and the youngest, Graciela. The resulting power play between these two patriarchs—one to which Vaclav loses far more than mere land—ignites a bloody act of vengeance, a feud between brothers, and a rift that expands until it threatens to crack the very bedrock of the county’s storied culture.

For more about The Wake of Forgiveness, please visit the author's website:

Praise for The Wake of Forgiveness

US Reviews:

" . . . a mesmerizing mythic saga . . . Machart has dared to park his wagon on the tracks of the Desert Limited and managed not to get flattened by McCarthy's locomotive. . . [Machart's] accounts of horse racing are as thrilling as his depictions of the harsh Texan landscape are precise." – New York Times Book Review

“Lavaca County, Texas — one moment it's a place you've never been, the next it's a place you can't forget, a place that comes to mind when you call yourself American, even if you grew up on a tree-lined street in Connecticut. This is extraordinary . . .  pure literature . . . a rare novel that makes a reader feel he has fallen through a crack in the earth and is swimming in the subconscious aquifer. How did [Machart] do it?” – Los Angeles Times

"This novel feels as if it was torn by a bare-handed surgeon from Machart's fecund imagination . . . [He] tells you everything you need to know about a character in the short distance between first letter and last period. This was also Faulkner's forte—running his sentences like country roads winding through hills full of dips and swerves—and Machart has ably shouldered that mantle and then set forth on his own path, one that shows thrilling promise." – Barnes and Noble

“In his luminous and wrenching tale of four motherless brothers, Machart skillfully evokes the rural Texas landscape of 100 years ago. Grade: A-” – Entertainment Weekly 

“ . . . a dark tale about fathers and sons, missing mothers and the poison that lies at the heart of the question, Who’s to blame?” – Washington Post

"The Wake of Forgiveness is an incantatory, astringent first novel… Such evocative prose helps make Machart's novel a standout this year, in any genre. He brings a touch of William Faulkner in his manipulation of time, and his focus on a particular, hard-pressed rural county….The Wake of Forgiveness is punctuated by violence, cruelty and a couple of rifle-carrying 'enforcers' who never speak a word. I can barely wait for what comes next.” – Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Machart's moving story unfolds lyrically and sensually, with little fanfare, as his thoughtful prose propels a character-driven story about family, morality, and redemption.” – Publisher’s Weekly (starred)

“This intense, fast-paced debut novel is hard to put down. Machart’s hard-hitting style is sure to capture fans of Cormac McCarthy and Jim Harrison. We can only hope for more exceptional fiction from this very talented writer.” – Library Journal (starred)

“Bruce Machart’s debut novel, The Wake of Forgiveness, proves as riveting a study in vengeance and blood lust as we could encounter outside Cormac McCarthy territory… a memorable read.” – Houston Chronicle

"The Wake of Forgiveness impressed me on many levels.  The prose is polished and evocative, the physicality of rural Texas in the year 1910 shimmers with loving exactitude, and the story of Karel Skala is a gripping American drama of misplaced guilt, familial struggle, and a search for identity.   At the heart of this remarkable novel is a question that is both age-old and completely modern:  Who am I?  What a fine, rich, absorbing book." –Tim O’Brien

Reviews in France:

“First novel and already a masterpiece.” -- France inter, Kathleen Evin

"It is not a discovery: it is a shock. With this first novel, Bruce Machart destroys everything in his path." -- Le Figaro Magazine, Nicolas Ungemuth

“Bruce Machart's flair for story-telling and trust in the narrative process take this novel away from clichés. It is a tour de force – the imprint of a writer already in full possession of his talents.”  -- Télérama, Nathalie Crom

“This is a mesmeric first novel, a symbolical and lyrical family tragedy about the sacred bond between sons and their mother. The slow, heartrending and rhythmic pen of a young writer who is already a virtuoso.” Le Point, Marine de Tilly

“Pages that burn, pages with a taste of blood, a praise of passing time, a vibrant hymn to those families who peopled the land where he was to be born one century later.” La Croix, Marie de Cazanove 

Copyright Irene Skolnick Literary Agency 2016