The Rich Part of Life
St. Martin's Press, 2002
Teddy Pappas is an 11-year-old boy forced into maturity before his time. He lives with his younger brother and eccentric Civil War historian father, a man more comfortable with discussing Confederate footwear than his sons' day. Their lives have been quiet for a year since Teddy's mother died in a tragic car accident. On the one-year anniversary of her death, Teddy's stoic father plays his wife's lottery numbers in a tender act. When it turns out that the family holds the $190 million winning ticket, their world is instantly transformed.
Featuring a unique father-son bond, this moving first novel is flavored with rich characterizations and poignant charms. Creating the perfect balance of humor and pathos, The Rich Part of Life takes us on an unforgettable journey through the ups and downs of unexpected wealth.
The Rich Part of Life has been published in fifteen languages.
It was a Doubleday Book Club Feature Selection and a Readers’ Digest Discovery Choice.
It is the winner of the Friends of American Writers for Best First Novel of 2001.
A subtle sense of humor as sweet as it is wicked and winning dialogue keep up the momentum. The result is a winning tale that bodes well for this writer's future.
— Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)
Watertight...so packed with zany Americana that you fear it might burst.
— Los Angeles Times
An impressive debut… a novel of character.
A cohesive and poignant story… Kokoris has an ear for how people talk and think.
— Chicago Tribune
Mr. Kokoris’s talent is evident on every page. He is in touch with the human spirit and offers, in this postmodern world, a refreshing hope for redemption.
— Howard Bahr, The Black Sky and The Year of Jubilo
St. Martin's Press, 2004
Sam was an indifferent Chicago lawyer, content to drift through life on his good looks and his wife's money until a violent incident shatters his world. Newly addicted to watching Sister North, a nun with a popular TV show, Sam embarks on a trip to Lake Eagleton, Wisconsin, to see the wise nun personally, seeking forgiveness and spiritual guidance.
When he arrives, he discovers that he has been watching reruns--Sister North has vanished, and all sorts of rumors abound. As he waits, wondering if the elusive nun will ever return, he meets other broken people, all searching and looking for answers. At once poignant and humorous, Sister North takes a look at what passes for faith and love in the 21st century.
Unexpected, hilarious, and more than worth the trip.
— New York Times
A tender poignancy permeates this charmingly profound yet deviously humorous portrait of redemption and renewal, one that Kokoris portrays with inspired insight and charitable compassion for a winsome cast of sad sacks. In a world fraught with trauma and tragedy, Kokoris reasons that we have a right to ask life's toughest questions; and the right answers, he reveals, may be closer than we think.
Sister North is an impressive achievement.
— Chicago Tribune
Funny and touching.
—National Public Radio's The Book Show
The Pursuit of Other Interests
St. Martin's Press, 2009
Charlie Baker is a neurotic but charming 50-year-old workaholic CEO of a major Chicago ad agency who seems to have it all: an impressive house in an upscale suburb, an equally impressive salary, the requisite pretty wife and accomplished son. All of this comes crashing down when Charlie is unceremoniously fired. In an instant, his life is transformed from corporate titan to just another out of work American.
For Charlie—an admitted workaholic—a world without a job is a strange world indeed. Rather then tell his family, every morning Charlie leaves home to spend his days at an outplacement firm, where he meets a cast of equally desperate corporate misfits. As Charlie reluctantly embarks on a journey of self-discovery, he finds out what happens when his work life is lost and his real life begins.
Humorous, poignant, and honest, The Pursuit of Other Interests offers a glimpse into the lives, hearts, and minds of the 21st-century American family.
The Pursuit of Other Interests has been named an “Indie Next List Notable” for December 2009 by the Independent Booksellers of America.
The Pursuit of Other Interests has the absurd hilarity of And Then We Came To The End coupled with the poignancy of Death of a Salesman. Compellingly readable. Utterly entertaining. Thought provoking. I was hooked by the first line and willingly pulled into the downward spiral of Charlie Baker’s life. He’s endearing and quirky in an embarrassingly real way. We are all Charlie, single-mindedly chasing after what we think we want, and then, when we get it, realizing we sped past the truly important things in life. Jim Kokoris absolutely nails the character of Charlie, with humor and pathos. I give it two thumbs up and five stars.
— Patricia Wood, author of Lottery
A shrewd and compassionate observer, Kokoris writes with subtle, sardonic wit, slyly revealing those endearing foibles and frustrating challenges that ring especially true in these clamorous economic times.”
Kokoris creates in Charlie a citizen funny enough, a husband flawed enough, and a father desperate enough that any reader might identify with his search for security and happiness, as well as a job—dream or not—that facilitates them both.
— Publisher’s Weekly
As Charlie bumbles his way through shopping on a budget and reconnecting with his teenage son, it is with a potent blend of humor and humility that we are reminded of what really matters. Life may be a rollercoaster, filled with ups and downs, but with Kokoris at the helm, readers are guaranteed an unforgettable and meaningful ride.
The Pursuit of Other Interests was featured in the Chicago Sun-Times and was also discussed on popular Chicago Public Radio show Eight Forty-Eight.
It's. Nice. Outside.
St. Martin's Press, 2015
Meet John Nichols. He’s fifty-something years old, an ex-basketball player, ex-author, ex-philanderer, ex-husband, ex-high school English teacher. And he’s the father of three: two overachieving adult daughters and 19-year-old Ethan, who will never be an adult. John’s older daughter is getting married, and as the family members travel to the celebration, John is secretly preparing for a life change that will alter his family’s hearts forever.
The five Nichols’ are held together by love and humor, as well as the spiky parts of sisterly competition and a difficult baby brother. Parents John and Mary have devoted themselves to caregiving, and John especially finds himself caught in the tension between being a parent and being true to himself. So when a new challenge comes their way in the wake of a road trip and wedding plans, the family bonds are stretched and tested. Funny, heartbreaking, and generous, It’s. Nice. Outside. asks: What happens when you have to let go of the person who has been holding you up?
…One needs to keep the tissues handy for this one as Kokoris summons tears of glee, such as when Mindy and Karen tie one on, and of sorrow, such as when John contemplates life without Ethan. A master at pairing the quotidian with the quirky, Kokoris puts the fun in dysfunctional.
— Carol Haggas, Booklist (full review)
It’s. Nice. Outside. is a book that you can’t stop reading, even though at times you might want to. If you’ve ever spied a harried father shepherding an adult child with exceptional needs, or whatever the current euphemism, and wondered what that man’s life might be like, this book will tell you… The book isn’t depressing. It’s riveting.
— Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun Times (full review)
Jim Kokoris dispels the myth that male writers cannot adequately portray women or tell family stories with sensitivity. Honest, funny, and brilliantly written, It's. Nice. Outside. will break your heart—and mend it. This book will remain one of my all-time favorites.
— Sandra Kring, author of Carry Me Home and The Book of Bright Ideas
Mr. Kokoris's beautifully rendered tale about a family ripping out their historical seams and patching themselves together the best they can in the confines of a mini-van during a life-changing road trip had me enthralled from the first page to the last. Heartbreaking? You bet. Hilarious? Absolutely. Loved it!
— Lesley Kagen, author of The Resurrection of Tess Blessing
Jim Kokoris's heart-warming novel of a man coping with his beloved and disabled son moved me from tears to laughter. Kokoris tells the story with humanity, humor, and most of all affection. It's. Nice. Outside. moves beyond stereotypes to show how we are all capable of love, and being loved. I. Love. This. Book.
— Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author
Heartwarming and hilarious, It's. Nice. Outside. is a tender and entertaining family story about what threatens to break us and what it takes to endure. Jim Kokoris's new novel is a rollicking read about love and devotion.
— Lee Martin, author of the Pulitzer finalist The Bright Forever