Saul Bellow

Writer

Born: 10 June 1915
Died: 5 April 2005
Birthplace: Lachine, Quebec, Canada
Best known as: Author of Henderson, The Rain King and Seize the Day

Name at birth: Solomon Bellows

Saul Bellow was a Jewish-American writer who in 1976 won the Nobel Prize for a career that included the novels Herzog (1965) and Seize the Day (1956). The son of Russian immigrants, he spent most of his life in Chicago and was closely associated with the city. His first novel, The Dangling Man, was written while Bellow was a Merchant Marine during World War II and published in 1944. A Guggenheim Fellowship in 1948 allowed him to travel in Europe and work on The Adventures of Augie March (1953), a National Book Award winner in 1954. His 1959 novel, Henderson, The Rain King, was a commercial and critical success, and Bellows was hailed as one of America's finest writers. Herzog (1964) and Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970) both won National Book Awards, and Humboldt's Gift (1975) earned Bellows a Pulitzer Prize. Bellows wrote about modern man -- an urban American Jew in most cases -- and the attempt to find identity and spiritual comfort in a neurotic and alienating society. He also wrote essays, short stories and plays, and taught for many years at the University of Chicago, and, after 1993, Boston University. His other books include More Die of Heartbreak (1987), A Theft (1989) and To Jerusalem and Back: A Personal Account (1976), his non-fiction account of his 1975 sojourn to Israel.

Extra credit: Bellow was married five times, the last time to Janis Freedman, a former student who was more than 40 years younger; in 1999 they had a daughter, when Bellow was 84 years old.

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