Winner, 2005 John C. Zacharis First Book Award
Finalist, 2006 PEN/Robert Bingham Award
2006 American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book
Finalist, 2005 Lambda Literary Award for Debut Fiction
Amazon Editors’ Picks: Top 50 Books of 2005
Amazon Editors’ Picks: Top 10 Gay and Lesbian Books of 2005
San Francisco Bay Times Top Fiction of 2005
Click here to listen to Richard McCann on NPR’s “All Things Considered”

Click here to visit Richard McCann on MySpace

With the breadth and cumulative force of a novel, Mother of Sorrows presents ten interwoven stories of an American family starting out in the post-World War II suburbs of Washington, D.C., a world of identical brick houses and sunstruck, treeless lawns.

“Richard McCann’s Mother of Sorrows is almost unbearably beautiful. It is, purely and simply, the real thing–a book so intricately felt, so magnificently written, that it can stand unembarrassed beside the mystery of life itself. It has immediately joined the small body of books I keep close by, for the times I need reminding of the heights we can achieve using only ink and paper.”

—Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours

“McCann holds such an exquisitely bright light over the landscape of 1950s suburban Maryland and the coming of age of his emotionally fragile, unnamed narrator…that the resulting book feels almost combustible.”


“These lushly detailed linked stories—which traverse post-World War II, middle-class America—have a complexity that feels expertly distilled….the stories acquire a rare thematic richness.”


“Exquisitely written…. As evocative as fading photographs, these are moving stories of betrayal and loss.”


“Mother of Sorrows features some of the cleanest, most elegant and unfussy prose I’ve read in ages.”


“…McCann possesses a talent to be reckoned with.”


“…a tragic family portrait that boldly confronts the significance of storytelling itself.”


“Achingly beautiful.”


portrait of Richard Mccann
Photo Credit: Sigrid Estrada

“These stories are heartbreaking, and yet they are written with so much tenderness, I came away from them filled with their beauty rather than their sadness. Richard McCann writes like a dream.”

—Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto

“These stories are written in a precise, spare, and tender poetry…They are full of haunted and love-filled moments of American memory.”

—Colm Toibin, author of The Master

“There is sorrow, of course, in Mother of Sorrows. Richard McCann delivers sorrow of the most knowing, serious kind–and joy, lust, awareness unfolding, the lyric and the ugly–all held in the loving embrace of exceptionally strong and tender language. McCann delivers.”

—Amy Bloom, author of Love Invents Us

“Mother of Sorrows is written in language so precise and vibrant, reading it brings to mind the elegiac stories of John Cheever and Richard Yates. McCann’s compassionate, refractive method is all his own, however, as is his world of cross-dressing boys, gay siblings, and friendships between people who find in each other, despite the odds, moments of surprising solace. Here is an author who writes unflinchingly about loss without ever giving in to despair, and by doing so, he has created an extraordinary work of art.”

—Bernard Cooper, author of Maps to Anywhere

“James Baldwin once described successful artists as those who had reconciled themselves to the task of a ‘delicate, disciplined self-exposure.’ In Mother of Sorrows, Richard McCann has subjected himself to this process with brave honesty, and the result is a portrait of a family as tender as it is harrowing.”

—Adam Haslett, author of You Are Not a Stranger Here