'The Adventures of Augie March is the Great American Novel. Search no further' Martin Amis
A penniless and parentless Chicago boy growing up in the Great Depression, Augie March drifts through life latching on to a wild succession of occupations, including butler, thief, dog-washer, sailor and salesman. He is a 'born recruit', easily influenced by others who try to mould his destiny. Not until he tangles with the glamorous Thea, a huntress with a trained eagle, can he attempt to break free. A modern day everyman on an odyssey in search of reality and identity, Augie March is the star of star performer in a richly observed human variety show, a modern-day Columbus in search of reality and fulfilment.
The Adventures of Augie March includes an introduction by Christopher Hitchens in Penguin Modern Classics.
'Funny, poignant, crowded with carnivalesque types and yet narrated by a voice that is lonely and simple, it is Bellow's fat comic masterpiece' Observer
Saul Bellow was born in 1915 to Russian emigre parents. He published his first novel, The Dangling Man, in 1944; this was followed, in 1947, by The Victim. In 1948 a Guggenheim Fellowship enabled Bellow to travel to Paris, where he wrote The Adventures of Augie March, published in 1953. Henderson The Rain King (1959) brought Bellow worldwide fame, and in 1964, his best-known novel, Herzog, was published and immediately lauded as a masterpiece, 'a well-nigh faultless novel' (New Yorker).
Saul Bellow's dazzling career as a novelist was celebrated during his lifetime with an unprecedented array of literary prizes and awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, three National Book Awards, and the Gold Medal for the Novel. In 1976 he was awarded a Nobel Prize 'for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work'.
Bellow's death in 2005 was met with tribute from writers and critics around the world, including James Wood, who praised 'the beauty of this writing, its music, its high lyricism, its firm but luxurious pleasure in language itself'.