Seven Stories Press
April 06, 2021
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About the Author
One of the most neglected American writers and also one of the best loved, Nelson Algren wrote once that literature is made upon any occasion that a challenge is put to the legal apparatus by conscience in touch with humanity. His writings always lived up to that definition. He was born March 28, 1909 in Detroit and lived mostly in Chicago. His first short fiction appeared in Story magazine in 1933. In 1935 he published his first novel, Somebody in Boots. In early 1942, Algren put the finishing touches on a second novel and joined the war as an enlisted man. By 1945, he still had not made the grade of Private first class, but the novel, Never Come Morning, was widely praised and eventually sold over a million copies. Jean-Paul Sartre translated the French-language edition. Algren went on to write a number of novels, story collections, and travel writings including The Neon Wilderness (1947), The Man with the Golden Arm (1949), which won the first National Book Award for Fiction, the prose poem Chicago: City on the Make (1951), and A Walk on the Wild Side (1956) among others. Algren died on May 9, 1981, a few days shy of his appointment as a fellow of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. His last novel, The Devil's Stocking, based on the life of Hurricane Carter, Nonconformity: Writing on Writing, and Entrapment and Other Writings, a collection of lost and unfinished writings were published posthumously, in 1983, 1996, and 2009 respectively. One of the short story masterpieces from Entrapment, The Lightless Room, is featured in Nelson Algren Live, a film written and produced by Barry Gifford and Dan Simon, starring Willem Dafoe.