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.
Barney Panofsky - Canadian expat, wily lover of women, writer, television producer, raconteur - is finally putting pen to paper so he can rebut the charges about him made in his rival’s autobiography. Whether it’s ranting about his bohemian misadventures during the 1950s in Paris, his tumultuous three marriages, or his successful trashy TV company, Totally Unnecessary Productions, he quickly proves that his memory may be slipping, but his bile isn’t.
"Who proofreads these productions?"
Since the age of 11, Moses Berger has been obsessed with the Gursky clan, an insanely wealthy, profoundly seductive family of Jewish-Canadian descent. Now a 52-year-old alcoholic biographer, Berger is desperately trying to chronicle the stories of their lives, especially that of the mysterious Solomon Gursky, who may or may not have died in a plane crash.
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!
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.
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.
Joshua Then and Now is about Joshua Shapiro today and the Joshua he was. His father is 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.
"Great story, should have found a better narrator"
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.
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.
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 closed-minded as that from which they have fled.
Cocksure evokes the outrageous and bawdy years of the 'Swingin' Sixties'. Mordechai Richler has assembled the most bizarre gallery of types - Mortimer Griffin, worried about impotence and with good reason; Rachel Coleman, slinky Black Panther of the boudoir; the Star Maker, a movie tycoon of truly unnerving erotic abilities and a living miracle of spare-part surgery; a precocious group of schoolchildren with a taste for the teachings of the Marquis de Sade and many more characters all working out their problems against the frantic background of post-war freedom discovering Sixties Britain.
"Weird book, dark satire that misses the mark"
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.
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.
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.