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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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Introduction by Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Wright
Afterword by Daniel Simon 
Contribution by H.E.F. Donahue

Never Come Morning is unique among the novels of Algren. The author's only romance, the novel concerns Bruno Bicek, a would-be boxer from Chicago's Northwest side, and Steffi, the woman who shares his dream while living his nightmare. "It is an unusual and brilliant book," said The New York Times. "A bold scribbling upon the wall for comfortable Americans to ponder and digest." This new edition features an introduction by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and an interview with Nelson Algren by H.E.F. Donohue.

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“Never Come Morning depicts the intensity of feeling, the tawdry but potent dreams, the crude but forceful poetry, and the frustrated longing for human dignity residing in the lives of the Poles of Chicago's Northwest Side, and this revelation informs us all that there lies an ocean of life at our doorstep—an unharnessed, unchanneled and unknown ocean...”

“It is an unusual and brilliant book ... a bold scribbling upon the wall for comfortable Americans to ponder and digest.”

“If the world of Never Come Morning is tawdry and brutal, Algren's language has a lyrical impulse that humanizes and uplifts. ... Algren's passionate belief that the disenfranchised and their lives matter, and should matter, never translates into sentimentality or righteous hectoring. Clear-eyed compassion, respect for fact and a fiery imagination that's fueled by empathy for the suffering of others make his work powerful, enduring and unique. Never Come Morning is inspiring.”

“One of the most important American novels that I have read...”

“Like a flare of light, it illumines... but in human terms. Never Come Morning towers head and shoulders over most novels.”

“The best book to come out of Chicago.”

blog — July 29

There lies an ocean of life at our doorsteps — Richard Wright on "Never Come Morning: A Novel" by Nelson Algren

To celebrate the publication of our new paperback edition of Never Come Morning: A Novel by Nelson Algren, we're proud to share the original 1942 introduction by Richard Wright, author of many iconic works including Native Son and Black Boy.

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Nelson Algren’s innocent, bold, vivid, and poetic imagination—as is exemplified in this novel, Never Come Morning—has long brooded upon the possibility of changing the social world in which we live, has long dreamed of the world’s being different, and this preoccupation has, paradoxically, riveted and directed microscopic attention upon that stratum of our society that is historically footloose, unformed, malleable, restless, devoid of inner stability, unidentified by class allegiances, yet full of hot, honest, blind striving. Algren’s centering of his observation upon the lowly and brutal strivings of a Bruno Bicek is the product of his sound instinct and reasoning, for, strangely enough, the Bruno Biceks of America represent those depths of life—the realm of the irrational and the nonhistorical—that periodically push their way into the arena of history in times of crisis, war, civil war, and revolution.

It would be interesting to speculate how diverse contemporary literary talents would have handled and developed the subject matter of Never Come Morning. Many competent novelists would not have considered its subject matter as legitimate material, would have condemned this subject matter, no doubt, as being sordid and loathsome. Others would have treated it lightly and humorously, thereby implying that it possessed no important significance. Still others would have assumed an aloof “social worker attitude” toward it, prescribing “pink pills for social ills,” piling up a mountain of naturalistic detail. A militant minority, shooting straight to the mark, would have drawn blueprints and cited chapter and page in a call for direct action. I think, however, Nelson Algren’s strategy in Never Come Morning excels all of these by far, inasmuch as it depicts the intensity of feeling, the tawdry but potent dreams, the crude but forceful poetry, and the frustrated longing for human dignity residing in the lives of the Poles of Chicago’s North West Side, and the revelation informs us all that there lies an ocean of life at our doorsteps—an unharnessed, unchanneled and unknown ocean. And Algren does this in prose as real, as sensory, as tactile, and as sharp as a left hook from Bruno Bicek, his pugilistic protagonist.

Most of us 20th century Americans are reluctant to admit the tragically low quality of experiences of the broad American masses; feverish radio programs, super advertisements, streamlined skyscrapers, million-dollar movies, and mass production have somehow created the illusion in us that we are “rich” in our emotional lives. To the greater understanding of our times, Never Come Morning portrays what actually exists in the nerve, brain, and blood of our boys on the street, be they black, white, native, or foreign-born. I say this for the public record, for there will come a time in our country when the middle class will gasp and say (as they now gasp over the present world situation): “Why weren’t we told this before? Why didn’t our novelists depict the beginnings of this terrible thing that has come upon us?” Well, Mr. and Mrs. American Reader, you are being told: The reality of the depths of our lives is being depicted. Algren’s Never Come Morning vies with the war for your attention, and vies in terms of literary realism as hard-hitting as any to be found in American prose.

Richard Wright
New York
February 1942

Introductions by Richard Wright and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Afterword by Daniel Simon 
Contribution by H.E.F. Donahue

Never Come Morning is unique among the novels of Algren. The author's only romance, the novel concerns Bruno Bicek, a would-be boxer from Chicago's Northwest side, and Steffi, the woman who shares his dream while living his nightmare. "It is an unusual and brilliant book," said The New York Times. "A bold scribbling upon the wall for comfortable Americans to ponder and digest." This new edition features an introduction by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and an interview with Nelson Algren by H.E.F. Donohue.

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One of the most neglected American writers and also one of the best loved, NELSON ALGREN wrote once that “literature is made upon any occasion that a challenge is put to the legal apparatus by conscience in touch with humanity.” His writings always lived up to that definition. He was born on March 28, 1909, in Detroit and lived mostly in Chicago. His first short fiction was published in Story magazine in 1933. In 1935 he published his first novel, Somebody in Boots. In early 1942, Algren put the finishing touches on a second novel and joined the war as an enlisted man. By 1945, he still had not made the grade of Private first class, but the novel Never Come Morning was widely praised and eventually sold over a million copies. Jean-Paul Sartre translated the French-language edition. In 1947 came The Neon Wilderness, his famous short story collection which would permanently establish his place in American letters. The Man with the Golden Arm, generally considered Algren’s most important novel, appeared in 1949 and became the first winner of the National Book Award for Fiction in March 1950. Then came Chicago: City on the Make (1951), a prose poem, and A Walk on the Wild Side (1956), a rewrite of Somebody in Boots. Algren also published two travel books, Who Lost an American? and Notes from a Sea Voyage. The Last Carousel, a collection of short fiction and nonfiction, appeared in 1973. He died on May 9, 1981, within days of his appointment as a fellow of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. His last novel, The Devil’s Stocking, based on the life of Hurricane Carter, and Nonconformity: Writing on Writing, a 1952 essay on the art of writing, were published posthumously in 1983 and 1996 respectively. In 2009 came Entrapment and Other Writings, a major collection of previously unpublished writings that included two early short story masterpieces, “Forgive Them, Lord,” and “The Lightless Room,” and the long unfinished novel fragment referenced in the book’s title. In 2019, Blackstone Audio released the complete library of Algren’s books as audiobooks. And in 2020 Olive Films released Nelson Algren Live, a performance film of Algren’s life and work starring Willem Dafoe and Barry Gifford, among others, produced by the Seven Stories Institute.