Richard Russo

October 24, 2023

SIU’s Paul Simon Institute hosts Pulitzer Prize novelist Richard Russo on Nov. 7

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and screenwriter Richard Russo, who taught in the Southern Illinois University Carbondale English department in the 1980s, returns to campus next month for a conversation hosted by the university’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Russo and John Shaw, institute director, will discuss Russo’s teaching and literary career and his new book, “Somebody’s Fool,” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7. The program begins at 6 p.m. in Student Center Ballroom B, with a reception starting at 5 p.m. Registration is encouraged, but not required.

Russo is one of America’s leading novelists and screenwriters. He was one of many in a talent-laden, award-winning English department faculty when his first novel “Mohawk” was published in 1986. Russo won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for “Empire Falls,” which was adapted into a 2005 two-part mini-series by the same name starring Paul Newman, Ed Harris, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Helen Hunt.

Russo’s 1997 novel, “Straight Man,” is the basis for SIU Carbondale alumnus Bob Odenkirk’s AMC series, “Lucky Hank.”

“Richard Russo is one of the most respected and popular writers in the United States. He is both a master novelist and a world-class screenwriter,” said Shaw. “Richard is eager to come back to Carbondale, visit with students and professors, and discuss his remarkable literary career. “

“Somebody’s Fool,” which was published in July, is the third book in the North Bath Trilogy that began with “Nobody’s Fool” in 1993 and “Everybody’s Fool” in 2016. He received the French literary award Grand Prix de Littérature Américaine (American Literature Grand Prize) for “Everybody’s Fool” in November 2017. The annual award is for an American novel translated into French and published that year.

In addition to his novels, Russo’s work includes numerous short stories, a memoir, “Elsewhere.” “Nobody’s Fool” was adapted for a 1994 film by the same name starring Paul Newman.

Attendees are encouraged to submit questions for Russo on the registration form or email questions to

More information, a list of the institute’s upcoming events and past speakers and events are available.