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Richard Price   Samaritan  
Richard Price  
Read an Interview with Richard Price

Read an Excerpt from Samaritan

Listen to Richard Price read from Samaritan

 

Few writers capture the tone and texture of urban life quite as deftly as Richard Price, author of the highly acclaimed novels Clockers and Freedomland, for which he also wrote the screenplays. In his latest work, Samaritan, Price returns to the fictitious town of Dempsey, New Jersey, a mid-sized metropolis whose inhabitants dwell among housing projects and abandoned dreams. The Hopewell Houses, which figure prominently throughout the novel, are modeled closely after the Bronx-based projects in which Price grew up.

Samaritan follows its two protagonists, Ray Mitchell and Nerese "Tweetie" Ammons, old childhood friends reunited through a bizarre set of circumstances. A successful TV writer with a once-recurring drug problem and a deep-rooted need to be altruistic, Ray has returned to Dempsey to revisit his roots and to reconnect with his 13-year-old daughter, Ruby. The formerly rebellious Nerese is a cop on the brink of retirement, whose ties to the Hopewell Houses remain strong.

Upon returning to Dempsey, Ray accepts a gig teaching writing pro bono at the local high school. Shortly thereafter he is found savagely beaten, and despite the severity of his injuries and the uncertaintly of his survival, he refuses to reveal his attacker's identity. Tweetie becomes instantly invested in the case, determined to break through to her tight-lipped witness and to solve this brutal crime before it's too late.

In this taut and gripping narrative, Price alternates chapters between Ray and Tweetie's points of view and between the days leading up to and following the attack, letting the plot unfold through the book's final page. His characters are smart and complicated and his writing stylishly paced. As it does for his character Ray, Samaritan represents a homecoming for Price, who describes it as his most autobiographical work yet. Having left himself as a character behind long ago, he returns to the familiar terrain armed with the new perspectives he's developed in the years since.

Price sat down with Bold Type recently to discuss his career, the writing process, and the consequences of misdirected generosity. Read an interview with Price and an excerpt from Samaritan, and listen to Price read from his riveting new work.

Laura Buchwald

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  Photo credit: Laura Buchwald

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