Advance Praise & Reviews of
Run in the Fam'ly

Winner of the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel,
the Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction,
and the Steven Turner Award for Best First Fiction

 "Run in the Fam’ly is an emotionally detailed exploration of a level of American society rarely seen in American fiction.  It focuses on the desperate lower class people called “inner city," dramatized by Jake Robertson, his family, and his buddies.  Mr. McLaughlin employs his mastery of vernacular speech, his under- standing of the street cultures of Chicago and Oakland, and his deeply human understanding, to explore the troubled and often violent bonds which hold together a black family.  Run in the Fam’ly is an exceptional work of fiction."

-James Alan McPherson, author of Elbow
          Room, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

   "Run in the Fam’ly proves that John J. McLaughlin is a writer of exceptional talent and enormous vision.  His themes are important, his characters are convincing as well as affecting, and his capture of voice dazzling. His writing is infused with unsentimental compassion. I was very moved by this ambitious novel, a marvelous debut."
                -Bharati Mukherjee, author of The Middleman, winner of the
                        National Book Critics’ Circle Award

    "John J. McLaughlin writes with great heart, humanity, and fierce compassion. Run in the Fam’ly is a sensitive and probing look at family and poverty, an ambitious debut novel that echoes Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath in its social consciousness, empathy, and exploration of the bedrock that binds us beneath the chasms of circumstance."
                —Alexander Parsons, author of Leaving Disneyland, winner of
                        the AWP Novel Award

"The story of Jake and Curtis is good news for us all because they— like the best characters of Flannery O’Connor—come to God through the path we all have in common: suffering and failure.  It's also good news because it heralds the emergence of a remarkable new writer of extraordinary vision and courage. The world of this novel is one which is largely ignored by middle-class America, but we experience it here in its full richness of pain, beauty, and mystery.”
                —Richard Rohr, OFM, author of Adam’s Return

Run in the Fam’ly marks John J. McLaughlin’s jazzy, bold debut.  The novel is both sharp-edged and tender and gives the reader a full measure of satisfaction.” 

                 —Jonathan Coleman, author of Long Way to Go: Black and
                        White in America

"Run in the Fam’ly is characterized by remarkable fluidity and consistency of tone, and marked by descriptive passages balanced and interspersed by a keen and convincing talent for dialogue. Altogether it recalls the novels of Emile Zola, with its amalgam of gripping narrative with sober sociological content."
                —Jon Manchip White, Judge, 2006 Peter Taylor Prize
 (Learn more about the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel here)

"McLaughlin's profound compassion is in his willingness and ability to let the language rise from the pavement, to let us breathe it in like dust, to let us taste and smell the hunter-gatherer hopes and terrors of the street. He is a brilliant and admirable writer."
                -David Searcy, Judge, 2007 Texas Institute of Letters' Awards
                            (Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction, and
                            Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction)

"John McLaughlin's Run in the Fam'ly marks the debut of a supremely gifted writer.  McLaughlin turns an uncompromising eye on an American reality that's crossed the line from dysfunction to outright insanity, a brutal world that seems specifically designed to crush every vestige of human dignity and hope.  McLaughlin writes with a toughness, compassion, and intelligence that are more than equal to the task of confronting this world, and Run in the Fam'ly is one of those rare books that will continue to haunt and instruct you long after you reach the end."

                        --Ben Fountain, author, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara,                                                             winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award


National Catholic Reporter
February 19, 2010

"At first glance, McLaughlin-- a Catholic who was raised in an affluent suburb of Washington, D.C. -- seems an unlikely candidate to be the author of the gritty first-person story he tells in Run in the Fam’ly..."
(read full profile)

Dallas Morning News
June 15, 2008

"The story is a dark, twisted tale that emanates from under the bridges, the parks, and the street corners of urban America. It flows from the invisible men and women  trapped by poverty  in places where dreams and hopes often die swift and violent deaths... It's a story that begins to simmer deep inside."
(read full review)

Image Journal
January 1, 2008

"Ambitious...beautifully and believably example of a new American realism that pairs a longing for justice with an understanding of literary craft. The book's landscape, the Flatlands of Oakland, is described in keen and loving detail, giving the weight of a serious social document in the way of Emile Zola or John Updike in the Rabbit books. The work is at once a commentary on the limitations of the American welfare system and the deadening round of urban poverty, and a portrait of the universal psychodrama of fathers and sons, as well as a page-turner. [It] holds out a profound truth as necessary in our age as in any other: that through humility and suffering we meet God."
(read full review)

Real Change
December 26, 2007

"Jake's narrative crackles of the hard scrabble streets. There are moments of love, humor, and tenderness...The raw language that permeates this story intensifies the sense of rage, confusion, and desperation that pervades the lives of many poor and marginalized individuals. Jake's truculent journey, limned powerfully by author John J. McLaughlin, is one that deserves attention."
(read full review)

Kirkus Reviews

"A compulsively readable book... McLaughlin delivers stirring imagery, a deeply moving look at American poverty."
(read full review)