AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • From the Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author, a hilarious, sharply drawn send-up of local politics • A novel about a dark-horse candidate who risks his personal happiness for a career in the Texas House of Representatives • "Required reading in these politically turbulent times.”—Susan Orlean, author of On Animals
“A rollicking satire . . ."— Paul Begala, The New York Times Book Review
Sonny Lamb is an affable, if floundering, rancher with the unfortunate habit of becoming a punchline in his Texas hometown. Most recently, to everyone’s headshaking amusement, he bought his own bull at an auction. But when a fire breaks out at a neighbor’s farm, Sonny makes headlines in another way: not waiting for help, he bolts to the farm where his heroic actions make the evening news.
Almost immediately, and seemingly out of nowhere, a handsomely dressed lobbyist from Austin arrives at his ranch door and asks if he’d like to run for his West Texas district’s seat in the state legislature. Though Sonny has zero experience and doesn’t consider himself political at all, the fate of his ranch—and perhaps his marriage to the lovely “cowgirl” Lola—hangs in the balance. With seemingly no other choice, Sonny decides to throw his hat in the ring .
As he navigates life in politics—from running a campaign to negotiating in the capitol—Sonny must learn the ropes, weighing his own ethics and environmental concerns against the pressures of veteran politicians, savvy lobbyists, and his own party. In tracing Sonny’s attempt to balance his marriage and morality with an increasingly volatile professional life, Lawrence Wright has crafted an irresistibly funny and clever roller-coaster ride about one man’s pursuit of goodness in the Lonestar State.
About the Author
LAWRENCE WRIGHT is a staff writer for The New Yorker, a playwright, and a screenwriter. He is the best-selling author of two previous novels, including The End of October, and eleven books of nonfiction, including Going Clear, God Save Texas, and The Looming Tower, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He and his wife are longtime residents of Austin, Texas.
“A rollicking satire . . . A fiery sample of the chili of Texas politics: equal parts tragedy, comedy and farce . . . The reader has to hold onto the rigging because this bronco spins, bucks, kicks and bites . . . I actually had to put the book down. I was laughing so hard my dog Gus was worried about me . . . As with all good Texas tales, there’s a showdown, but in Wright’s version the lines are as muddy and winding as the Brazos River. In fact, this is not really a morality tale. It’s a character study, cleverly hidden within a raucous, fast-paced, hilarious sendup.” — Paul Begala, The New York Times Book Review
“Hilariously captures the unbridled absurdity that is a session of the Texas Legislature . . . Wright has a perfect feel for Texas landscapes and characters, for dialects and foibles . . . Mr. Texas is billed as a comic novel, and it is undoubtedly funny. But there’s a wistfulness about it, too. Wright leaves open the possibility that a group of politicians—guided by nothing more than good faith and their love of the Lone Star State—might find a way past partisan rancor and cynicism.” —Shawna Seed, Dallas Morning News
“Lawrence Wright’s Mr. Texas is an uproarious novel about the kitschy weirdness of Texas politics. Every page crackles with deadpan wit, satirical rube philosophy, and keen journalistic observation. But just because Mr. Texas is a hoot doesn’t mean it lacks erudition. This is a classic American political novel in the tradition of Bill Lee Brammer’s The Gay Place and William Kennedy’s Roscoe. My only regret is that Larry McMurtry and Molly Ivins aren’t alive to laugh out loud with the rest of us readers. Trust me: Mr. Texas is an irresistible humdinger of a book that has major motion picture written all over it.” —Douglas Brinkley, author of Silent Spring Revolution
“Smart, biting, wickedly funny, and really good company: If Mr. Texas had a Tinder profile, that might be it. Lawrence Wright, whose nonfiction journalism is exemplary, proves he can hit from both sides of the plate with this brilliant work of fiction. His skewering of politics is pitch perfect. Mr. Texas is required reading in these politically turbulent times.” —Susan Orlean, author of On Animals
“Billionaires and lobbyists battling public servants with the future of Texas in the balance. This is the novel our Texas politics deserves. The craven and absurd, the big hearted and hopeful, the old guard and the next generation, these are the characters who decide the fate of our state and by extension our nation.” —Beto O'Rourke, author of We've Got to Try “Lawrence Wright is the foremost anthropologist of all things Texas, a place where truth is indeed often stranger than fiction. In Mr. Texas, Wright examines the seemingly inexplicable nature of our horrifying partisan politics today in a way that makes the reader both laugh out loud and quietly tear up, but if you're a prisoner of hope, you'll find in these pages reason to keep believing. And it's a wildly entertaining kick in the chaps.” —Mark McKinnon, creator of The Circus
“Too tragically real to be fiction, too funny to be journalism, too heartfelt to be satire, Mr. Texas is a virtuoso blend of all three, an instant Lone Star classic that employs humor to devastating effect. Laughing at the pitch perfect asides of a politician who ‘got his ass vulcanized’ or was ‘a billionaire back when that meant something,’ Mr. Texas accomplishes what only the best satire can: It shocks us into recognizing the ‘piñata of partisanship’ that has left Texas ‘a place where hatred was key to political advancement.’ But it is Wright’s impeccable balancing of sincere empathy along with this genuine satirical deconstruction of their culture that makes Mr. Texas the triumph it is.” —Sarah Bird, author of Last Dance on the Starlight Pier
“Lawrence Wright is an American original. He’s one of our most cosmopolitan writers but also rooted in his beloved Texas. His new novel is a panoramic journey through the bramble of Texas politics—all the way to today’s debates about fracking, transgender rights and migrants. His characters are complex and believable, drawn from real-life Texans that Larry has known over decades. It’s characteristic of Larry’s limitless talent that now he’s written a can’t-put-it-down novel!” —David Ignatius, author of The Paladin
“Original and funny . . . Tapping into his prodigious knowledge of and affection for the state of Texas, Wright gives us a novel about politics and people . . . Wonderful characters, Texas-sized helpings of wit and insight, and, believe it or not, a vision of post-partisan redemption.” —Kirkus
“Wright brings decades of insider knowledge to bear in this devilishly witty send-up of Texas politics . . . No one emerges unscathed in this rollicking satire.” —Publishers Weekly
“A seductive portrait through words [of] the hot, barren beauty of West Texas . . . A fascinating portrait of Lone Star legislating.” —Booklist