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Author Information: Nelson Algren

 
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1909-1981

One of the most neglected American writers and also one of the best loved, Nelson Algren once wrote that "literature is made upon any occasion that a challenge is put to the legal appartus 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 was first published in Story magazine in 1933. In 1935 he published his first novel, Someday 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. In 1947 came The Neon Wilderness, his famous short story collections which would permanently establish his place in American letters. The Man with the Golden Arm, winner of the first National Book Award, appeared in 1949. Then came Chicago, City on the Make (1951), a prose poem, and A Walk on the Wild Side (1956), possibly his greatest novel. Algren also published two travel books, Who Lost an American? and Notes from a Sea Voyage. The Last Carousel, a collection of short fiction and nonfiction, appeared in 1973. He died on May 9, 1981, within days 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, and Nonconformity: Writing on Writing, a 1952 essay on the art of writing, were published posthumously in 1983 and 1996 respectively.

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