Mordecai Richler Solomon Gursky Was Here.
Knopf, 557 pages, $19.95

Many years ago in Moscow, I interpreted for a visiting stage director from Calgary. At the end of her visit she gave me a present, a book titled Cocksure, by Mordecai Richler—“a Canadian writer,” she added importantly.

I will confess right off the bat that, starting with Cocksure (1968), Mr. Richler has been one of my favorites through the years. His Canadian-ness has only added to his appeal: American literature seems like an adopted home to me, while Canada is still an exotic place.

Mr. Richler has often dealt with Canadian-ness in his work. For him, a sense of national pride is always leavened with a bit of cultural inferiority complex. I can think of no other Canadian writer who is so mordant on the subject. Jake Hersh, the hero of St. Urbain’s Horseman...


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