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Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
Another colossal narrative from the crotchety Canadian well-known for his depictions of Montreal, St. Urbain st in particular, and Jewishness. One part mystery, one part pseudo-historicism, one part vulgarity, SGWH follows Moses Berger, son of marginal, half-failed poet L.B., as he traces the familial roots of the Gursky family, dredging up a history shrouded in murder, lies, lots of booze, plenty of womanizing, and the mysterious Solomon Gurksy.

For anyone who hasn't read Richler, his prose is lucid, conversational but basking in Jewish witticisms and articulate lewdness. I suspect most of his main characters are based on the author himself, at least in part - strong, gruff, grizzled male protagonists who have penchants for liqour and sleeping with people.

So, how did this bad boy read? Its depth, characterization, historical accuracy and plot were first rate; the sheer complexity of the narrative (and what seemed to be irrelevent meanderings) and the quantity of characters to keep track of makes it a thinker's book. All I can say is, thank fuck he included the Gursky family tree and a map at the front of the book.

Would I recommend it? Certainly, though Barney's Version or The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz might be more suitable primers for those wishing to explore Richler's unique style. BV in particular hits the spot, but all three (including SGWH) were awarded literary prizes, some biggies, if I'm not mistaken.

What says Assboy?




I haven't read Solomon Gursky was here but I have read several of Richler's books. My favourite ended up being "The Incomparable Atuk", which is really a satire of certain aspects of Canada's policy of multiculturalism.
He also has an excellent book called On Snooker, I believe, which is well worth reading if you like snooker or billiards or just if you like Richler. Quite funny.


Senior Member
Eventually I'll get through all of them, since my girlfriend's dad is a big fan and owns everything. So far I've done Duddy, Barney's Version, the Street, and Solomon Gursky. Next: Cocksure, Joshua Then and Now, then the Atuk book.

The title kind of turns me off, though.

I loved Jacob Two-two as a kid, too.


Senior Member
The literary world lost a great writer when Richler passed away four years ago. And Canada lost one of it's wittiest and most sardonic political critics.

I think I've read everything he published, with the exception of his last book On Snooker, because the subject didn't interest me, though the jacket photo of the late Queen Mother playing billiards looked interesting. If I had to choose my favourite Mordecai Richler novel, it'd be a toss-up between The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, for sentimental reasons, and Barney's Version for its sheer brilliance.

Among the list of books already mentioned, I would also include St. Urbain's Horseman, and his first novel, The Acrobats. Even Richler agreed that the latter was not a particularly well-written book, but it's worth reading, if only to study the early Richler style before he fully found his writer's voice.

Richler's essays also make compelling reading, particularly his biting satire about Quebec/Canada relations, Oh Canada! Oh Quebec!: Requium For A Divided Country


Senior Member
Personally, after I've read an author's major works, I like checking out what they did earlier in their career, like first published works, to see how far I have to go. Thanks for the suggestions.