Shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award
"Desperation Road is an elegantly written, perfectly paced novel about a man and woman indelibly marked by violence. Characters who would be mere stereotypes in a lesser writer's hands are fully realized, and we come to care deeply as they attempt to create a better life for themselves. An outstanding performance."—Ron Rash
"Michael Farris Smith is one of the best writers of his generation, and this very well may be his best work--taut, tense, and impossible to put down."
—Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
"Michael Farris Smith's Desperation Road reads as if it were forged in a fire stoked by the ghosts of Carson McCullers, Larry Brown, and William Gay. The result is a novel rife with violent beauty and incredible grace. Smith's terse, muscular prose encapsulates a heart that renders this novel as rich and alive and wounded as any you'll find in contemporary fiction."
—Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Me
"Anchored by prose that is both poetic and brutal, Desperation Road is a gorgeous and violent book. But don't be fooled by the title. Michael Farris Smith's novel teems with the honest and believable humanity that only the bravest writers dare to search for in the most troubled souls."—Ivy Pochoda, author of Visitation Street
"Michael Farris Smith taps into the rhythm of a world I know, and he does it so well, with such ease, that it's almost like I'm living it instead of reading it. His anti-heroes teeter always between the drag-out skids and sweet redemption, and they create a beautiful, true tension that makes this novel burn and thrum in your hands."
—Jamie Kornegay, author of Soil
"A novel that lends dignity and grace to those too often damned, DESPERATION ROAD is fearless, guttural, and thunderously heartfelt. Quite simply one of our finest writers at work today, Michael Farris Smith has made his own place at the table."
—David Joy, author of Where Light Tends to Go
"This book tore at my heart and infected my brain. It reminded me how powerful literature can be, and how often it falls short. Michael Farris Smith is a huge talent."
—Richard Grant, author of Dispatches from Pluto
"Desperation Road is a brilliantly compelling novel dealing with an enormously difficult but fundamental reality of the human condition: how lives lived intensely for years without connection to or even knowledge of each other can suddenly intersect with profound consequences. Michael Farris Smith is a prodigiously talented writer whose new book is not only an exciting read but an important literary event."
—Robert Olen Butler, author of A Small Hotel
"Smith writes shapely prose and sharp dialogue and everywhere displays an acute sense of the moments and pain that can define lives in a small town."
—Kirkus (starred review)
"Smith is a meticulous craftsman who evokes his protagonists and their world with patience and subtlety. Ultimately, the road of the novel's title moves just through desperation, but also into a tentative landscape of hope, and perhaps even redemption."
"Smith's lean, visceral prose will keep readers glued to a richly textured and briskly paced story."
"The book is elegant, even profound, the cadence of the words alluring, bringing the reader deeper into this world of gray.... Amidst this, there is a glimmer of hope to lead them into brightness again."
"Dazzling.... Smith is incredibly gifted; emotion and poetry soak his straightforward prose, its easy flow masking the precision behind every word. He imbues the everyday slog of difficult lives with reverence and grace, painting the faintest glimmer of hope in opportunities lost and prices paid for flying too close to the web."
"Put the name Michael Farris Smith on your must-read list.... Desperation Road doesn't meet or exceed expectations so much as blows the doors, windows and roof off the house in which it lives. It's a book for which you'll want to set aside everything else."
"Smith writes in spare, sharply observed language, like a more colloquial take on Cormac McCarthy.... The steady accumulation of phrases in Smith's prose conveys a sense of control even as the characters' lives seem marked by random misfortune."
—Atlanta Journal Constitution
"Elegant prose and masterful storytelling transform this tale into a work of literary art.... The author's skills are apparent on every page. The simplicity and clarity of the writing underlie and enhance his uncanny ability to unerringly depict a scene. The Southern, small town locale is so artfully described that when lightening strikes, the reader flinches."