Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Sweet Hereafter” as Want to Read:
The Sweet Hereafter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Sweet Hereafter

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  7,800 ratings  ·  601 reviews
When fourteen children from the small town of Sam Dent are lost in a tragic accident, its citizens are confronted with one of life’s most difficult and disturbing questions: When the worst happens, whom do you blame, and how do you cope? Masterfully written, it is a large-hearted novel that brings to life a cast of unforgettable small-town characters and illuminates the my ...more
Paperback, 257 pages
Published November 25th 1997 by Harper Perennial (first published 1991)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Sweet Hereafter, please sign up.
Recent Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,800 ratings  ·  601 reviews

Sort order
Paul Bryant
Nov 11, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Recipe for Russell Bank's Sweet Hereafter

Ingredients required

17 dead teenagers and little kids
2 living teenagers
1 bus
1 bus driver (female)
1 river
1 road
Twenty-five large scoops of ice and snow
Four bags of bad weather (can be found at most supermarkets)
1 small town
Approx 35 parents
Reporters (a handful will do)
2 lawyers
1 oz morality
10 oz sentimentality
1 box soapflakes
4 boxes Kleenex


Sprinkle the ice and snow on the road. Tilt the road 25 degrees, with the edge of the road close to the edge o
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Σε μια μικρή κωμόπολη της Αμερικής, στις αρχες της δεκαετίας του ‘90, ένα σχολικό λεωφορείο θα ντελαπαρει με αποτέλεσμα 14 παιδιά να χάσουν τη ζωή του! Κι από αυτή τη στιγμή αποδιοργανώνεται ολόκληρη η πόλη! Η αφήγηση κινείται γύρω από το τροχαίο και πως αυτό άλλαξε όλα τα δεδομένα στις ζωές των ανθρώπων! Τέσσερις αφηγητές (ο πατέρας δυο εκ των άτυχων παιδιων, η οδηγός του σχολικού, μια έφηβη που επενέβαινε στο σχολικό αλλά σώθηκε κι ένας δικηγόρος) περιγράφουν την κατάσταση πριν και μετά το ατύ ...more
. . . _ _ _ . . .
Θυμάμαι είχα επισκεφτεί μια παλιά μου συμμαθήτρια που σπούδαζε στην Αθήνα το μακρινό 1997. Είχε μόλις βγει το Γλυκό Πεπρωμένο στις αίθουσες και την είδαμε σε ένα σινεμά στην Καλλιθέα (;).
Σοκ. 21 χρόνια μετά, ακόμη θυμάμαι ένα σχολικό να γλιστράει στο χιόνι. Μακρινό πλάνο. Το σχολικό βουλιάζει σχεδόν αθόρυβα στην παγωμένη λίμνη. Κάποιες μακρινές παιδικές κραυγές. Κατ.
Στο διάλειμμα ένας άντρας από ένα ζευγάρι στα μπροστινά καθίσματα ανακάλυπτε με σοκ το μυστικό στην οικογένεια της επιζήσασας.

K.D. Absolutely
May 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Modern Fiction)
When is lying acceptable? Or even an act of heroism? Banks answers: when it is for the common good.

Writing-wise, there is nothing special in this book. The prose is simple, readable and sometimes even boring. There are a few meaningful verses but none that can be gleamed as original or hits you really hard. However, what's lacking in verse is adequately augmented by the thought-provoking questions that this book opens to the reader and in the end, offers answers as well.

When is an accident an ac
Chrissa Vasileiou
Η άποψή μου για το βιβλίο στο site "Book City" και τον παρακάτω σύνδεσμο: Το γλυκό πεπρωμένο
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ένα σχολικό, ένα δυστύχημα που θα καταλήξει με πληθώρα νεκρών παιδιών, ανάμεσα στους επιζώντες η οδηγός του λεωφορείου και μια έφηβη καθηλωμένη πλέον σε αναπηρική καρέκλα. Νόμιζα ότι θα διαβάσω την κλασική συνταγή που θα συνέθετε ένα δακρύβρεχτο βιβλίο με ολίγον από κοινωνικό και όχι μόνο προβληματισμό. Νόμιζα. Ναι, είναι ένα βιβλίο που θα σε συγκινήσει, αυτό είναι αναπόφευκτο αλλά ο στόχος του δεν είναι μόνο αυτός. Εξάλλου για το δυστύχημα μιλάνε (ο καθένας από τη δική του οπτική), τέσσερις δια ...more
Oct 29, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The conclusion gives us an incredibly powerful image to end this, an almost impossible tale to tell. The awful tragedy in itself is not committed to the page, but the aftereffects are clear, the emotions are not hinted at but fully disclosed. I don't know if I was very much convinced that there are four DISTINCT characters, since they are so alike. I feel like a great bulk of the book was not told, not actually given to us the way it was supposed to: like evading a grand central question. Yeah, ...more
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit
A remarkable and remarkably simple piece of literature that spawned a remarkable movie.

Russell Banks, Russell Banks, Russell Banks. If I write his name enough it might conjure a complete sentence from my mind, as though his name alone might rub some of his magic off on me and I could explain this novel to you. Russell Banks. It's not working.

I just read Affliction which a truly incredible movie was adapted from, adapted so well that it seemed to make the novel a non-event for me, yet I knew tha
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I've been meaning to read Russell Banks for a very long time. Affliction had been on my Goodreads to-read list since I joined in 2008. As I had snubbed it time and time again, I ultimately removed it from my list.
Then, after recently listening to Nancy Pearl's That Stack of Books podcast, my interest was renewed with her enthusiasm for The Sweet Hereafter. I loved that movie. I still can't help but hear Sarah Polley's haunting version of the Tragically Hip's Courage whenever it's brought up. So,
Alessandro Pontorno
Russell Banks è un eccellente scrittore e questo "Il dolce domani" -pur senza brillare- conferma appieno le sue qualità.
Al di là dei tragici eventi narrati in questo romanzo a più voci, la riflessione che a mio avviso emerge con maggiore forza è la peculiarità della vita, dei comportamenti, del senso di comunità e giustizia di coloro che scelgono di vivere ai margini della società moderna così come noi la conosciamo.
Piccoli paesi in cui tutti si conoscono e nei quali i rari turisti sono visti co
J. Trott
I first read Russell Banks because I found out that he wrote the books that two great movies are based on, "The Sweet Hereafter" and "Affliction." The first of these two is an exquisite movie.

In fact, and one doesn't often hear this, especially on Goodreads, but the movie is better than the book. In the movie, directed by Atom Egoyan, the story of a school bus in a upstate NY town going into the lake is dealt with in the aftermath. Most of the children of the town are dead, and lawyers show up,
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Εντάξει, το παραδέχομαι, ήταν εξαιρετικό. Μια αριστουργηματική σπουδή χαρακτήρων και μια πλοκή που, αν και λειτουργεί απλά ως όχημα για αυτούς, είναι παράταυτα ενδιαφέρουσα. Επίσης, με εντυπωσίασε η ρεαλιστικότητα των αντιδράσεων των θυμάτων της τραγωδίας και των συγγενών τους, όταν αποφασίζουν να ζητήσουν αποζημίωση από τους όποιους υπευθύνους, μπορώ να βεβαιώσω από προσωπική/επαγγελματική εμπειρία ότι είναι βγαλμένα από τη ζωή.

A mastepiece of a character study, plus a plot that, alhtough it ma
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of the movie, and those who should be fans of the movie (by which I mean everyone)
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Whenever I read this book, I find myself wishing I'd read it before seeing the movie. No matter how hard I try, I find that I just can't shake those visuals, and I'd like to try to read the book on its own terms.

Having said that, I love both the book and the movie, for reasons I'm not sure I can explain. The movie was actually one of the first DVDs I ever bought, at a time when DVDs were still kind of magical, and I watched it backwards and forwards. I listened to the commentary tracks; I watche
Sep 02, 2007 rated it did not like it
This one seemed to have a lot of potential. The idea was good. The story was… good. Or it could have been.

I hated the way it was written. I didn’t like this fellows style at all. None of the characters came off as especially likeable, or real, or endearing, or brave… or anything. There was nothing stand out of the four people in the town chosen to narrate. Their story was sad, something stand out in itself. And perhaps that was meant to be the meat, that was meant to be all that stood out. But
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-english
This is a terribly moving, insightful, and masterfully written novel, the best of the several I have read by Banks -- who is a superb writer.
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"Newtown" (which as well as now being synonomous with a horrible tragedy, is also the name of a sleepy, quaint 300 year old New England town a few miles from where I went to high school) got me thinking about this book. I read it many years ago, but it affected me deeply at the time. After I saw the film (which is one of those rare adaptations that may almost eclipse the novel), I read the book and could not stop thinking about either for days. I had the book group I was running at the time read ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, reviewcopy, shelf
Δείτε επίσης και στο Chill and read

«Το Γλυκό Πεπρωμένο» είναι ένα βιβλίο για την απώλεια και πως τη διαχειρίζεται κανείς, αλλά είναι και ένα βιβλίο για τους ανθρώπους και το χαρακτήρα τους. Αλήθεια, τι επιτρέπεται και τι δεν επιτρέπεται να κάνει ή να πει κανείς όταν πρόκειται για την ψυχική ηρεμία μιας ολόκληρης πόλης;

Το Σαμ Ντεντ είναι μια μικρή πόλη στα βόρεια της πολιτείας της Νέας Υόρκης, στα σύνορα με τον Καναδά. Είναι μια μικρή ήσυχη πόλη που οι κάτοικοί της γνωρίζονται λίγο πολύ όλοι μετα
Nov 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Huh. This book reminded me of the movie "Crash" --- it had that same feel of being a moving and at times heart squashing view of different people's lives and the way they come together to misunderstand each other. At the same time, it's very different than Crash because the central conflict or story is this bus accident and how people grapple with it.

The writing was good, and at times the words were profound and very insightful. On the whole, I liked the book and I'm glad I read it. I wouldn't
Apr 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The goodreads blurb for this says: "Atom Egoyan's Oscar-nominated The Sweet Hereafter is a good movie, remarkably faithful to the spirit of Russell Banks's novel of the same name, but Banks's book is twice as good." It has been a while since I read the book or saw the movie, but I'd say this assessment is kind of backwards. Banks's book is good, but the movie is a masterpiece. I should revisit both soon.
Andrew Smith
May 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book taught me more about how to write than almost any other book I've read. The last chapter is a remarkable tour de force.
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book blew me away with its beautiful writing, many layers of story and the credible tension that Russell Banks was able to create out of such a simple premise, in fact it almost reads like a mystery. Banks writes in such a way that he opens up the small town of Sam Dent and deposits you right in the middle of it leaving you feeling as if you personally know all the characters or might have once lived there yourself. It is also an interesting character study and from my experience realistic ...more
Connie Mayo
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the structure of this book as well as the writing.

The story is told by four different people who are in some way connected to the accident, and there are four parts or chapters, one for each, then a final chapter. What I thought was clever was that even though they are all talking in first person about the accident, the story ends up being chronological - the bus driver describing the morning of the accident up until it just starts to happen, the father who is in a car following the bus
Evie Hemphill
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Couldn't put it down--an exploration of grief and how different individuals and the impacted community respond to and attempt to make sense of a terrible tragedy. Loved the way Banks tells it from four connected perspectives.
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Cand li se naruie visele, unii oameni devin superstitiosi din nevoia de a gasi o explicatie la ce li s-a intamplat"
Jan 15, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I meant to pick up "The Reading Group" for a light change of pace after "Nickel and Dimed," but I had to take Naava to the pediatrician who often discusses literary fiction with me (he reads a lot of the same books I do, but in Hebrew translation) and I was embarrassed to come in with a fluff book. What can I tell you; we all indulge our vanity where we can. Meanwhile, after a 1.5 hour wait in the waiting room I'm too into the book to put it down now. "The Reading Group" will have to wait.

Jan 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-novels
Banks's writing is easy to read. His prose is conversational, and any first person narrator he inhabits sounds real. I believe the voices he uses. I believe them as people. Whether I believe the facts of any of the plots in his books is another question, but one that is rich and interesting to ponder.

Still, the two books of his I've read have broken my heart. I'm not running out to the store to buy the rest of his catalog. I'm old and haggard and jaded enough as it is.

The Sweet Hereafter gives u
Apr 18, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In his attempt to write a philosophical novel, Russell Banks sacrifices character development, plot and engaging writing. In his attempt to tell the story of people coping with a shared tragedy, he sacrifices philosophy. The resulting disaster is a barely readable story told by four different people, often with the characters overlapping and repeating events to the reader - sometimes even lifting dialogues word for word from previous chapters - instead of moving the story forward. Perhaps if Ban ...more
Regine O
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This short little book took me over 2 weeks to finish - I savoured it to the last page and made sure I could read it undisturbed and without any interruptions.

The writing is stellar, the characters are flawlessly developed and multifaceted, and I really enjoyed the story being broken up into different narratives.

It's one of the saddest books I've ever read, but also one of the most beautiful ones.
Nathan Leslie
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A modern masterpiece. A tour de force of point of view and characterization. The story is quite tragic, but so well rendered and psychologically cogent. Internal and beautifully constructed and written novel.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Change description 2 10 Mar 30, 2018 05:28AM  
  • A Dangerous Friend
  • The Dismal Science
  • The Ice Storm
  • Fearless
  • In the Bedroom: Seven Stories
  • Rush
  • Cold Heaven
  • From The Fifteenth District
  • Paris Trout
  • Thumbsucker
  • Three Weeks in December
  • End of Story
  • A Ship Made Of Paper
  • About Schmidt (Schmidt, #1)
  • Edisto
  • Snow Angels
  • Reversal of Fortune: Inside the Von Bulow Case
  • Lord of the Flies
Russell Banks is a member of the International Parliament of Writers and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous international prizes and awards. He has written fiction, and more recently, non-fiction, with Dreaming up America. His main works include the novels Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, Cloudsplit ...more
“It's a way of living with tragedy, I guess, to claim after it happens that you saw it coming, as if somehow you had already made the necessary adjustments beforehand.” 3 likes
“Mourning can be very selfish. When someone you love has died, you tend to recall best those few moments and incidents that helped clarify your sense, not of the person who has died, but of your own self.” 3 likes
More quotes…