"Steven Wright’s debut novel reads like a 'how to' book that thousands of K Street connivers and Wall Street warriors don’t want the rest of America to see," writes James Grady in The Washington Post. "The Coyotes of Carthage," Wright's fictional look at dark money in local politics, came out this month from Ecco Books. The co-director of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Wright also teaches creative writing at UW-Madison.

Grady continues, "While the novel’s antihero is a D.C.-based 'political consultant' named Toussaint Andre Ross, the story’s true villain is Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: Money changes everything, from our gilded White House to the battered Main Streets of democracy’s hometowns."

And Wright should know. Before joining the UW Law School faculty, he served as a trial attorney in the Voting Section of the United States Department of Justice. In this role, he litigated cases to enforce the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Acts, National Voter Registration Act, and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act

Read what other critics and journalists have written about "The Coyotes of Carthage:"

Steven Wright
Steven Wright

  • Steven Wright's 'The Coyotes of Carthage' is a crackerjack debut political novel, USA Today. "His ability to lift the curtain on the manipulation of data, criminal justice, and the sociological behavior of voters is nothing short of fascinating (perhaps because in his day job, Wright is a clinical associate professor of law and co-directs the Wisconsin Innocence Project, and previously served as a trial attorney in the Voting Section of the United States Department of Justice)."
  • Madison author looks at political carnivores with 'Coyotes of Carthage,' The Capital Times. "The book pulls together the different strands of Wright’s career, including his time at the Justice Department, his work as co-director of the Wisconsin Innocence Project working on behalf of the wrongfully convicted, and being an associate law professor and creative writing lecturer at University of Wisconsin-Madison."
  • Dark money, moral dilemmas, Isthmus Weekly. "Wright says his novel 'is definitely a product of my University of Wisconsin experience,' citing extraordinary support from both creative writing and law school colleagues. He also said he had been inspired by conversations with his criminal defense clients."
  • "Coronavirus has disrupted book world, but you can still read strong novels from Wisconsin writers," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "A hilarious assessment of dark money campaigns for corporate clients. … Ironies abound in this thing."
  • Library Journal. "This is an archly comic and ultimately chilling political novel on the effects of the dark money unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on the American political soul as well as on the souls of individuals. Thoughtful, sharp-edged fare for the upcoming election year."
  • Kirkus Reviews. "That this debut novel is written by an attorney whose specialties include criminal justice and election law adds doleful, acerbic authenticity to his scenario. Yet there is also alertness to the possibility of redemption and change even in the most polarizing of situations."
  • Publishers Weekly. "Wright explores the fraught intersection of business and politics in his promising and caustic debut."

While the pandemic has upended plans for a book tour, Wright appeared in a live online event via Crowdcast at 7 p.m. April 14 with CNN legal correspondent Laura Coates. The event is available to stream on demand.

Submitted by Law School News on April 20, 2020

This article appears in the categories: Faculty, Frank J. Remington Center, In the Media

Related employee profiles: Steven Wright

Submit an Article