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Rumble Through the Dark is an answered prayer of style and substance.” The New York Times

Kirkus Reviews 9 Must Read Short Novels

BookPage Top Summer Mysteries and Thrillers

The Bitter Southerner Best Summer Reads

Best Books of 2018 by Writer’s Bone, More 2 Read, Raven Crime Reads, The Clarion-Ledger

The Fighter is a triumph. It confirms Smith’s status as one of our foremost authors in the Rough South, Grit Lit tradition established by Crews, Larry Brown, William Gay, and the towering Cormac McCarthy.” 

The Clarion-Ledger


“Few scribes alive write about hard people in hard circumstances as compellingly as Smith. Publicity sheets contain comparisons of his work to Cormac McCarthy’s. They are not hyperbolic. Smith is that good.” 

The Bitter Southerner


“Smith is a gifted storyteller who parses battered dreams and the legacies of abandonment with a harsh realism that is both saddening and engaging.” 

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


“Michael Farris Smith cements his place as one of the finest writers in the American literary landscape.” 

Fantastic Fiction


“Smith excels in this dark and violent Southern grit-lit thriller.” 

Library Journal (starred review)


The Fighter is about you and me and the idea that if anybody, anywhere, gets one final round with redemption, there’s a price to pay — and the purse is the difference between living and dying.” 

Mountain Times


“[The Fighter] is a crisply written tale of thwarted lives and rawboned courage.” 

Booklist (starred review)


“A grizzled, brown liquor-drenched gem.” 

The Dallas Morning News


“Michael Farris Smith has inherited the rough south of Larry Brown and created his own rugged terrain. The Fighter is a spare, powerful, beautifully composed work by a writer who can probe the dark side of the American dream like no other.” 

Bill Cusumano, Square Books, Oxford, MS


“Smith writes with the Delta river silt and cotton fields in his blood and the vernacular of its denizens in his ear….In the tradition of the Mississippi literature like Faulkner and Larry Brown, The Fighter is rich in character and landscape, but more insidiously, in the hard life and meager hopes of those who live there.” 

Shelf Awareness


“One of those wonderful and rare books that’s both a page turner and a novel of great depth and emotion. The Fighter is Southern Noir at its finest.”

Ace Atkins, NYT Bestselling author of The Fallen and The Sinners


“Brutality is tempered by poignancy. Smith’s elegant use of a Cormac McCarthy-esque disregard for traditional syntax and punctuation empowers him to depict stomach-turning violence and earnest, heartbreaking humanity all in the same paragraph. Though fraught with desperation, The Fighter is ultimately a tale of triumph and deliverance.” 

The Daily Mississippian


“Smith infuses The Fighter with the honest, empathetic humanity that’s become the hallmark of his fiction.” 

Writer’s Bone


“In the end, the lasting image of The Fighter is one of sympathetically detailed characters at the fringes of society and the ends of their ropes in a world where their luck may be about to change. That situation makes for a genuine, breathless tension, and that makes The Fighter a compelling and memorable read.” 

New York Journal of Books


“Michael Farris Smith adds another memorable work to his growing list of tough-minded, fascinating Mississippi stories…The Fighter brings together everything Smith does well.” 

Chapter 16


The Fighter reaches far beyond its already deeply satisfying patina of pulp to become something transcendent. For such a punishing, desolate story to leave the reader in an almost uplifted place is an accomplishment and an enormous credit to Smith’s skill.” 

Winnipeg Free Press


“The man can flat-ass tell a story.” 



“Michael Farris Smith is so good, I might actually hate him a little bit. The Fighter is a masterful portrait of place and character and how one influences the other, with language that is both brutal and tender at once. Smith loves Jack Boucher and the Mississippi Delta to the bone.”

Attica Locke, author of Bluebird, Bluebird


“I loved The Fighter. Michael Farris Smith is one of the most exciting new voices in American fiction. Just as I couldn’t put down Desperation Road till I finished, I tore through this novel.”

Brad Watson, National Book Award nominee and author of Miss Jane

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