The Fighter (March 2018)

TheFighter_HCCritically-acclaimed novelist Michael Farris Smith, “one of the best writers of his generation” (Tom Franklin), delivers a blistering novel of violence and deliverance, set against the mythic backdrop of the Mississippi Delta.

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The acres and acres of fertile soil, the two-hundred-year-old antebellum house, all gone. And so is the woman who gave it to Jack, the foster mother only days away from dying, her mind eroded by dementia, the family legacy she entrusted to Jack now owned by banks and strangers. And Jack’s mind has begun to fail, too. The decades of bare-knuckle fighting are now taking their toll, as concussion after concussion forces him to carry around a stash of illegal painkillers and a notebook of names that separate friend from foe and remind him of dangerous haunts to avoid.

But in a single twisted nighthe is derailed. Hijacked by a sleazy gambler out to settle a score, Jack loses the money that will clear his debt with Big Momma Sweet, the queen of Delta vice, whose deep backwoods playground offers sin to all those willing to pay. This same chain of events introduces an unlikely savior in the form of a sultry, tattooed carnival worker. Guided by what she calls her “church of coincidence,” Annette pushes Jack toward redemption in her own free-spirited way, only to discover that the world of Big Momma Sweet is filled with savage danger.

Damaged by regret, crippled by twenty-five years of fists and elbows, heartbroken by his own betrayals, Jack is forced to step into the fighting pit one last time, the stakes nothing less than life or death. With the raw power and poetry of a young Larry Brown and the mysticism of Cormac McCarthy, Michael Farris Smith cements his place as one of the finest writers in the American literary landscape.