The Adventures of Augie March

Winner, National Book Awards 1954 for Fiction

Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March book cover
ISBN 9780965027489
Penguin | Viking
1957_Saul Bellow author photo
Saul Bellow

Praised for his vision, his ear for detail, his humor, and the masterful artistry of his prose, Saul Bellow was born of Russian Jewish parents in Lachine, Quebec in 1915, and was raised in Chicago. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University in 1937, with honors in sociology and anthropology, and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. During the Second World War he served in the Merchant Marines. More about this author >

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Augie comes on stage with one of literature’s most famous opening lines. “I am an American, Chicago born, and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted.” It’s the “Call me Ishmael” of mid-20th-century American fiction. (For the record, Bellow was born in Canada.) Or it would be if Ishmael had been more like Tom Jones with a philosophical disposition. With this teeming book Bellow returned a Dickensian richness to the American novel. As he makes his way to a full brimming consciousness of himself, Augie careens through numberless occupations and countless mentors and exemplars, all the while enchanting us with the slapdash American music of his voice.

The Adventures of Augie March was Saul Bellow’s first National Book Award win, but there were more to come. To this day, he is the only writer to have won the National Book Award three times, and to have been nominated for it six times.

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