Author Saul Bellow dies
image c/o Dmitri Kasterine
Saul Bellow, the Nobel Prize-winning author of “Herzog,” “Humboldt’s Gift” and other essential tales of memory, chaos and the sensitive soul in 20th century America, died Tuesday. He was 89.
Bellow’s close friend and attorney, Walter Pozen, said the writer had been in declining health. Pozen said Bellow’s wife, Janis, and daughter, Naomi, were at his side when he died at his home in Brookline, Mass.
Few writers have been so honored in their time. He won three National Book Awards: in 1954 for “The Adventures of Augie March,” in 1965 for “Herzog” and in 1971 for “Mr. Sammler’s Planet.” In 1976, he won the Pulitzer Prize for “Humboldt’s Gift.” That same year Bellow was awarded the Nobel Prize, cited for his “human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture.”
In 2003, the Library of America paid the rare tribute of releasing work by a living writer, issuing a volume of Bellow’s early novels.
“The backbone of 20th-century American literature has been provided by two novelists — William Faulkner and Saul Bellow,” Philip Roth said in a statement Tuesday. “Together they are the Melville, Hawthorne, and Twain of the 20th century.”
Bellow was the most acclaimed of a generation of Jewish writers who emerged after World War II, among them Roth and Bernard Malamud, leading Bellow to joke that he and his two peers were the “Hart, Schaffner & Marx” of literature. To American letters, he brought the immigrant’s hustle, the bookworm’s brains and the high-minded notions of the born romantic.