“Once you’ve come to be a part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another.
Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies.
But never a lovely so real.” – from „Chicago: City on the Make“
Nelson Algren was born on the 28th of March, 1909 in Detroit, Michigan. His descent was Swedish, German and American. When he was three years old, his family moved to Chicago. He studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduating with a Bachelor of Science in journalism in 1931.
In 1933 he wrote his first story “So Help Me” in Texas. Before he returned home he tried to steal a typewriter from a classroom but was caught. Algren spent a month in jail and faced a possible three additional years. This event deepened his identification with outsiders and failures.
In 1935 his first novel “Somebody in Boots” was published. His best known work is “The Man with the Golden Arm”, which won the National Book Award in 1950 (the first year in which the National Book Award was given). Another important book is “Chicago: City on the Make” which describes all facets of the City. This and many other books of his show Algren’s negative view at our world. His favorite plots are about outsiders, corrupt politicians and criminals. One that shows his opinions of the world is “Nonconformity”, which was published posthumously in 1994.
Algren died on the 9th of May, 1981.
The Nelson Algren Award
Each year the Nelson Algren Award is given by the Chicago Tribune newspaper for a short fictional story. The winner story is published in the newspaper and its author is given $5,000.