WHAT: THE LIFE OF SAUL BELLOW:
To Fame and Fortune, 1915-1964,
the first of a two-volume work by Zachary Leader
WHEN: Published by Knopf May 7, 2015
WHERE: The author lives in the UK.
WHY: “A must read.
“Nobel laureate Saul Bellow was convinced that ‘a human being has to be faithful to his unique history,’ even if that history is ‘mixed, scrambled, anomalous, difficult.’ In this first volume of a projected two-part biography, Leader illuminates the first four decades of Bellow’s unique life history and limns Bellow’s creative fidelity to that history.
“With unprecedented access to the novelist’s personal papers, Leader develops a fuller, more reliable portrait of the novelist than those offered by his previous biographers. Readers learn first how the novelist’s Russian Jewish parents illegally bring their gifted son to an impoverished Chicago neighborhood, where he learns how to voice an Eastern European emotionalism in the potent idiom of an American inner city. Through university study, he acquires an anthropological perspective on human behaviors. Through political fights, he grows suspicious of ideological orthodoxies. Leader especially probes Bellow’s development as a fictionist who makes the wire of lived facts glow with imaginative electricity.
“To be sure, offended friends and former wives have interpreted Bellow’s literary treatment of their life facts as mean-spirited and vindictive. But millions of appreciative readers recognize in Bellow’s work the grit of a James Farrell, the exuberance of a Charles Dickens. A must-read for students of American literature.”
—Bryce Christensen, in a starred review for BOOKLIST
“Will stand as the definitive Bellow biography.
Leader is a believer in the hefty biography, and his new volume will bend a hardwood shelf. The research underlying the text is formidable. Leader certainly read everything, talked to everyone relevant who would talk with him (not everyone would), and visited numerous significant sites.” —KIRKUS REVIEWS
“An impressive achievement.
This biography gives noble due to one of the 20th century’s most significant writers.”