"My god, he thought, his heart quickening, can it be that she's still alive? 'Lord Jesus,' he started to pray, just before a worm, no wider than a ring finger and no thicker than a few sheets of paper, pushed forward several inches out of her mouth."

The Heavenly Table

News & Reviews

The Heavenly Table

First Things, by Jerry L. Walls
“‘Pollock’s genius is displayed in the exquisitely crafted prose that runs throughout pages that are undeniably on the extreme end of the “raw and gritty” scale. But the deeper beauty in his writing is conveyed in the fact that he never fails to show us the human predicament in all its depraved glory… (continued)

The New York Times, by Alexander Maksik
“wild, rollicking and wonderfully vulgar novel, but the people of ‘The Heavenly Table’ sure are hungry. All is not easy, least of all for the famished, and it is distinctly refreshing to read contemporary American fiction that concerns itself with such a fundamental problem of existence… (continued)

eMissourian, by Nelson Appell
“‘The Heavenly Table’ is a vulgar and profane satire. Pollock pulls it off and makes it look easy. Cross Mark Twain with Cormac McCarthy and throw in some Quentin Tarantino and you’ll get an idea of Pollock’s style.” (continued)

The Maine Edge
“… a variety of influences and attitudes into a book that is extremely visceral, darkly funny, incredibly violent and – at times – difficult to read. It is also compelling as hell.” (continued)

The Times (UK), by Robbie Millen
“It’s the vision of a bountiful buffet in the hereafter with “pork chops thick as a bull’s cock, beefsteaks the size of wagon wheels” that keeps Pearl Jewett trudging through his miserable life… (continued, subscriber access)

The Scotsman, by Stuart Kelly
“Three brothers’ journey of violence and mayhem is delivered with both humour and brutal honesty in Donald Ray Pollock’s historical novel… (continued)

The Daily Mail, by John Harding
“Donald Ray Pollock’s brilliant Western is an earthy, raunchy read – Dickensian in its rogues gallery of oddball characters. (continued)

Boston Globe, by Ted Kehoe
“At times, reading Pollock’s work is like standing under a waterfall of human perversion. Everyone is corrupt. No one is spared. […] But The Heavenly Table also has its sights on higher things.” (continued)

An Amazon Best Book of July 2016
“There’s really nobody like Donald Ray Pollock. With a name that sounds like a serial killer’s and style to match, he came to the writing game late, publishing the grimly funny and occasionally shocking collection, Knockemstiff, on the windward side of his 50th birthday. The Devil All the Time, another dark ramble through backwoods Ohio, followed, this time expanding his grimy gothic into a fully realized novel.” (continued)

Dallas News, by William J. Cobb
“Like a hybrid masterwork of Quentin Tarantino and Flannery O’Connor, Donald Ray Pollock’s second novel, The Heavenly Table, is a comic Southern Gothic romp, hell-bent on making the reader squirm and laugh, often at the same time.” (continued)

The Chillicothe Gazette, by Rami Yoakum
“Madness, murder and a multitude of misfits descend on the eerily familiar fictional town of Meade in local author Don Pollock’s second full-length novel, ‘The Heavenly Table.'” (continued)

The Seattle Times, by David Wright
“There’s just no way to emerge unsullied and unscathed from Donald Ray Pollock’s Southern Gothic outlaw tale ‘The Heavenly Table’. Readers venturing into this grim territory, out beyond Cormac McCarthy and Patrick DeWitt, in the bizarre vicinity of Harry Crews’ manic intensity and the depraved noir of Jim Thompson, are apt to be startled and disturbed by what they witness, and not least of all by the sound of their own laughter.” (continued)

“The result is a story that reads almost like surrealism — like weird fiction save for the certain fact that all of it is real. In its bloody, violent, terrible collisions, The Heavenly Table feels like Blood Meridian if Cormac McCarthy had been born with a streak of black humor in him rather than just terseness and rage.” (continued)

Publishers Weekly
“With furious prose and a Faulknerian eye for character, Pollock (The Devil All the Time) populates his second novel with dozens of memorable people who embody America’s headlong leap toward the future in the early 20th century.” (continued)

Los Angeles Review of Books, by Karen Brissette
Pollock is a champion of the downtrodden, the overlooked; marginalized people with slippery moral compasses who plow through their surroundings on their own terms, typically resulting in mutually assured destruction…” (continued)

Open Letters Monthly, by Aaron Botwick
“In August 1917, the United States had just entered World War I. The abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm was still fifteen months away. Before then, over one hundred thousand Americans would die, more than in any conflict since the Civil War. But few, if any, of the many characters in Donald Ray Pollock’s The Heavenly Table can locate Germany on a map, let alone concern themselves with politics outside the country in which they were born and in which they will probably die.” (continued)

Publishers Weekly, “5 Writing Tips: Donald Ray Pollock”
“When I decided to learn how to write, I didn’t know any writers, or anything about how to get started. I was forty-five and had worked at the same paper mill in a small town in southern Ohio for twenty-seven years at that point. However…” (continued)

My Dayton Daily News, by Vick Mickunas
“Good things come to those who wait. Most of my favorite writers take their time. It can be years between books but if you really love an author’s work it is usually worth it. Donald Ray Pollock has just published his third book, “The Heavenly Table.” This book was worth the wait.” (continued)

Chapter 16, by Sean Kinch
“Pollock does not condemn the Jewetts for refusing to wait for divine benevolence; he celebrates them for realizing that, in this brief and perilous life, one must seize any opportunity to sample the weird and wonderful feast that the world has to offer.” (continued)

Crimespree Magazine, by Dave Wahlman
“Last night I read 100 pages and I’m not bullshitting when I say I had 2 of the worst nightmares I’ve had in years. […] I am now truly afraid of Donald Ray Pollock. He is the literary boogeyman. Somewhere around the pages in the low 200’s I have decided this is the book Sam Peckinpah and Cormac McCarthy collaborated on during a week long meth binge in a whorehouse.That is a compliment by the way.” (continued)

Booklist, by Thomas Gaughan
“… a strange tale gets even stranger. Think of The Heavenly Table as an antic, shambolic, guilty pleasure. Pollock’s prose is compulsively readable and often very funny. Yes, the humor all seems to stem from sexual proclivities and excrement, but that’s what makes the pleasure guilty.” (full review for subscribers)

“A darkly comic gorefest by a gifted writer.” (continued)

Los Angeles Times, by Steph Cha
“Th”ere are few living novelists with a stronger point of view than Donald Ray Pollock.” (continued)

The Seattle Weekly, by Paul Constant
“All of Pollock’s interests are on display in Table: the effect of technology on work, the rippling impact of violence, the desperate decisions that lead to crimes, and the difference between the America of our dreams and the real America of the heartland. If this sounds way too serious, I’m failing at my job, because Pollock does have a sense of humor—one that is dark and broad.” (continued)

Jackson Clarion Ledger by Paul Constant
“Pollock […] has a rare gift of creating compelling characters that interact in a believable manner even in unbelievable circumstances.” (continued)

10 Questions with Donald Ray Pollock
Interview with Keith Rawson
“Writing an introduction to a Donald Ray Pollock interview is kind of like writing one for Margaret Atwood or George Sauders: They’re the best at what they do, so what else really needs to be said? […] So I’ll just go ahead and shut up now and let the man do the talking for himself.” (continued)


The Devil All the Time

Publishers Weekly, Best Books 2011, by Louisa Ermelino
“Pollock gives us over to despair and destitution and an undiluted primal evil; he raises the grotesque to art. You can’t believe what you’re reading but you do, and you can’t stop reading it.” (continued)

The Washington Post, by Robert Goolrick
“You may be repelled, you may be shocked, you will almost certainly be horrified, but you will read every last word.” (continued)

The New York Times, Sunday Book Review, by Josh Ritter
A Good Man is Impossible to Find
“… a crimson procession of evils so brutally creative… exactingly and lovingly detailed by Pollock.”

LA Times, by Caroline Kellogg
“… where any prime-time television show can incite nail-biting with a lurking killer, Pollock has done much more.” (continued)

The New York Times, Charles McGrath
Writer Remains the Literary Voice of Knockemstiff
“Mr. Pollock’s new novel is, if anything, even darker than the [Knockemstiff] stories, and its violence and religious preoccupations venture into Flannery O’Connor territory.”

Books and Culture, Jerry Walls
Redemption in Knockemstiff

GQ, Daniel Riley
The Badass Book of the Month: The Devil All the Time
“Donald Ray Pollack’s terrifying new novel is an unsettling masterwork. See our exclusive excerpt for a sneak peek into a dark mind.”

WYSO Book Nook with Vick Mickunas
An audio interview of Don about his debut novel, on Vick Mickunas’ author interview program with WYSO, Miami Valley Public Radio in Ohio.

USA Today, Bob Minzesheimer
The Devil Unleashed in Appalachia
“Donald Ray Pollack’s terrifying new novel is an unsettling masterwork. See our exclusive excerpt for a sneak peek into a dark mind.”

The Columbus Dispatch, Margaret Quamme
“Beneath the gothic horror is an Old Testament sense of a moral order in the universe, even if the restoration of that order itself requires violence.” (continued)

Dayton Daily News, Vick MicKunas
“Pollock has expanded on… storytelling gift for his debut novel, “The Devil All the Time.” A gallery of reprobates and religious fanatics… are multidimensional, flawed human beings.” (continued )

Amazon.com lists The Devil All The Time as one of the Best Books of the Month (July 2011)!

Elle, Lisa Shea
“Pollock. . . doesn’t get a word wrong in this super-edgy American ­Gothic ­stunner.” (continued)

Philadelphia Citypaper, Summer Book Quarterly 2011, Justin Bauer
“For a first novel so soaked in stale sweat and bright fresh blood, Pollock’s sweat is well-earned, and his blood is wise.” (continued)

Esquire, Three Books Every Man Should Read, Aaron Gwyn
“. . .  a smorgasbord of grotesque characters trapped in a pressure-cooker plot. . . .  Watching Arvin Eugene Russell, the essentially good but nonetheless troubled protagonist, search for redemption among these thugs is brutal fun.”

Publisher’s Weekly, Fiction Review
(Starred Review) “If Pollock’s powerful collection Knockemstiff was a punch to the jaw, his follow-up, a novel set in the violent soul-numbing towns of southern Ohio and West Virginia, feels closer to a mule’s kick…” (continued)

William Gay, Author of  Provinces of Night and The Long Home
“This novel fulfills the promise made by Pollock’s debut collection, Knockemstiff.  He is a real writer, and The Devil All The Time hits you like a telegram from Hell slid under your door at three o’clock in the morning.”



Associated Press
Working Knockemstiff
AP Writer Matt Leingang

The Wall Street Journal
A New American Voice
“Early reviews by publications such as Publishers Weekly have been encouraging. In theme and tone, “Knockemstiff” is related to the works of writers such as Chris Offutt, Daniel Woodrell, and William Gay, who write about characters living at the margins of society.”

The New York Times, Jonathan Miles
“Pollock’s voice is fresh and full-throated, and while these stories travel negligible distances, even from one another, the best of them leave an indelible smear.” (continued)

The New York Times, Steven Rosen
“Donald Ray Pollock’s book of hard-edged, violent short stories is drawing attention to a dilapidated Appalachian town once forgotten.” (continued)

“To get an idea of Donald Ray Pollock’s astonishing first book, one could try to imagine a drunken punch-up between a redneck Hemingway and an amphetamine-fuelled Raymond Carver.” (continued)

WOSU Public Media, WOSU book critic Kassie Rose
“The renowned author Joyce Carol Oates has written that one of the little-understood responsibilities of the artist is to bear witness… Donald Ray Pollock has done just that for a way of life rarely acknowledged, and he’s done it superbly. ” (continued)

Dayton Daily News
“These stories detonate… Pollock writes with incendiary verbal pyromania.””This is a fantastic debut.” (continued)

The Oregonian
“When I picked up Knockemstiff… I was anticipating a good read. But I wasn’t prepared for the driving force with which these dazzling stories would plunge me into another place”” (continued)