Lawless: A Novel Based on a True Story (Paperback)

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November 2008 Indie Next List

“I loved this book -- an effective symbiosis of style, substance, and narrative technique. The novel absorbs the reader into its riveting account of the 1920s and 1930s Virginia moonshine trade and offers a fascinating perspective of American history. I was immersed from beginning to end.”
— Kristin Kirkham, The university book store, Madison, WI


A gritty, gripping tale of brotherhood, greed, and murder, this “engrossing” (Entertainment Weekly) novel is now a major motion picture starring Jessica Chastain, Tom Hardy, Shia Labeouf, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, and Mia Wasikowska.

With a Foreword by Director John Hillcoat

Based on the true story of Matt Bondurant’s grandfather and two granduncles, Lawless is a gripping tale of brotherhood, greed, and murder. The Bondurant Boys were a notorious gang of roughnecks and moonshiners who ran liquor through Franklin County, Virginia, during Prohibition and in the years after. When Sherwood Anderson, the journalist and author of Winesburg, Ohio, was covering a story there, he christened it the “wettest county in the world.” Anderson finds himself driving along dusty red roads, piecing together the clues linking the brothers to “The Great Franklin County Moonshine Conspiracy,” and breaking open the silence that shrouds Franklin County. In vivid, muscular prose, Matt Bondurant brings these men—their dark deeds, their long silences, their deep desires—to life. His understanding of the passion, violence, and desperation at the center of this world is both heartbreaking and magnificent.

About the Author

Matt Bondurant is the author of three novels, the most recent of which is The Night Swimmer. Lawless—previously published as The Wettest County in the World—was a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s 50 Best Books of the Year. His first novel, The Third Translation, was an international bestseller, translated into fourteen languages worldwide. He currently teaches literature and writing in the Arts and Humanities graduate program at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Praise For…

"[An] utterly engaging fable of bootlegging, revenge and remorse...Bondurant will be compared to Cormac McCarthy. It's warranted: Both have a gift for describing brutality so clearly that we see beauty in the honesty." -Men's Journal

"Bondurant is a nimble writer...[His] prose is lyrical when the whiskey floods in, but also when the blood flows out." -The New York Times Book Review

"You have to go back to William Faulkner's novels about the Snopes clan to find the kind of cold-blooded Southern amorality that drives Matt Bondurant's second novel...Bondurant's prose is thick with the kind of blood-soaked descriptions that would do Cormac McCarthy proud." -Washington City Paper

"[An] engrossing novel...[Bondurant is] wonderful at evoking hisotrical atmosphere--the elaborate stills camouflaged in the woods, the music, the drunken gatherings that explode into shattering violence." --Entertainment Weekly

Product Details
ISBN: 9781451658941
ISBN-10: 145165894X
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: September 11th, 2012
Pages: 336
Language: English