For a time, Nelson Algren was America’s most famous author, lauded by the likes of Richard Wright and Ernest Hemingway. But at the height of his career, he abandoned fiction and fell into obscurity. Colin Asher’s sublime biography of Algren unravels the enigma of his disappearance, explores the richness of his novels and nonfiction writing, and explains how a rash creative decision may have led his enemies to denounce him to the FBI during the Red Scare. Asher tells Algren’s story in rich, novelistic detail, including his long-term affair with Simone de Beauvoir and the emotional breakdown that nearly cost him his life. Drawing from interviews, archival correspondence, and Algren’s 886-page FBI file, Never a Lovely So Real portrays Algren as a dramatic iconoclast and reclaims him as a towering literary figure.
Colin Asher is an award-winning writer whose work has been featured in the Believer, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle. An instructor at CUNY, he was a 2015/2016 Fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography.