Join Alderman Maldonado, Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon, and Oakton Community College Emeritus Program Instructor and Saul Bellow Expert, Richard Reeder to dedicate an honorary street sign on the southwest corner of Augusta and Rockwell, in memory of Saul Bellow, Chicago’s only Nobel Prize winner for literature. The event will be at 11:30 a.m. Monday, June 11, 2012, a day after Bellow’s 97th birthday.
Saul Bellow’s formative years, from 1924 to 1934 were lived in Humboldt Park, mainly in an apartment at 2629 W. Augusta in the 26th Ward. The name of the protagonist in possibly Bellow’s greatest, novel, The Adventures of Augie March, was a nickname derived from Augusta Boulevard.
In 1976, Bellow became the only Chicago writer ever to win the Nobel Prize for fiction. He is the only writer to win the National Book Award for fiction three times and was also the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.
When Bellow was nine, his family moved to the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, the city that was to form the backdrop of many of his novels. Bellow’s father, Abraham, was an onion importer. He also worked in a bakery, as a coal delivery man, and as a bootlegger.
Bellow grew up as an insolent slum kid, a “thick-necked” rowdy, and an immigrant from Quebec. As Christopher Hitchens describes it, Bellow’s fiction and principal characters reflect his own yearning for transcendence, a battle “to overcome not just ghetto conditions but also ghetto psychoses.”