Colin Asher on Nelson Algren, with Russell Banks



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Former Leon Levy Center for Biography Fellow Colin Asher on Never a Lovely So Real: the Life and Work of Nelson Algren, in conversation with acclaimed novelist Russell Banks and editor Dan Simon 

For a time, Nelson Algren was America’s most famous author, lauded by the likes of Richard Wright and Ernest Hemingway. Millions bought his books. Algren’s third novel, The Man with the Golden Arm, won the first National Book Award, and Frank Sinatra starred in the movie. But despite Algren’s talent, he abandoned fiction and fell into obscurity. The cause of his decline was never clear. Some said he drank his talent away; others cited writer’s block. The truth, hidden in the pages of his books, is far more complicated and tragic. Now, almost forty years after Algren’s death, Colin Asher finally captures the full, novelistic story of his life in a magisterial biography set against mid-twentieth-century American politics and culture.‚Äč

Colin Asher is an award-winning writer whose work has been featured in the Believer, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle. An instructor at CUNY, he was a 2015/2016 Fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography.

Dan Simon is founder and publisher of Seven Stories Press. His biography of Abbie Hoffman, Run Run Run: The Lives of Abbie Hoffman, co-authored with Abbie’s brother Jack, will be reissued in July. He co-edited, with William Savage, the critical edition of The Man with the Golden Arm and, with C.S. O’Brien, Algren’s Nonconformity: Writing on Writing. 

Acclaimed author Russell Banks is best known for the award-winning novels Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, Cloudsplitter, the Sweet Hereafter and Affliction.