The Nelson Algren Committee

None of Algren's work was in print when the Committee planned its first event in 1989. Today, in addition to the Nelson Algren Fountain (Milwaukee at Ashland); the Algren apartment historical site; and the Birthday Party, the Committee can point to all of Algren's work having been returned to print.

To find out more about the committee and its work contact:

The Algren Committee ..

Nina Gaspich, Hugh Iglarsh, Kurt Jacobsen and Warren Leming

Address: 2418 W. Bloomingdale, #203, Chicago, IL 60647 USA

Come join Nelson and his friends on facebook

Check on facebook for comments and images of Nelson's previous birthday celebration..


Please review our newsletter below to which we welcome contributions.

Nelson Algren Photo

Our Founder,
established in 1989.

"By nights when the yellow salamanders of the EL bend all one way and the cold rain runs with the red-lit rain.
By the way the city's million wires are burdened only by lightest snow;
When chairs are stacked and glasses are turned and arc-lamps all are dimmed.
By days when the wind bangs alley gates ajar and the sun goes by on the wind.
By nights when the moon is an only child above the measured thunder of the cars, you may know Chicago's heart at last."
Nelson Algren: Chicago: City on the Make

Algren Committee members Hugh Iglarsh, Warren Leming and Mary Wisniewski
will be meeting OCT 24TH AT 6 PM at the fabled 57th street book store,
and all Algrenites are invited for the discussion- which will consider Mary's new biography of Nelson.

Mary is a reporter at the Chicago Tribune and former Reuters investigative reporter covering the Midwest. Previously a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a reporter for Chicago Lawyer, Wisniewski has won numerous awards for reporting and has taught creative writing and published literary reviews. She is an active participant in the Nelson Algren Committee, past president of the Chicago Headline Club, and appears frequently on local television and radio.



Event date:
Monday, October 24, 2016 - 6:00pm
Event address:
57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

By Mary Wisniewski
ISBN: 9781613735329
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Chicago Review Press - October 2016


"Algren's Last Night" is the bittersweet tale of a Chicago writer bidding farewell to the city he had 'made his trade.'
Bulletprooffilm — February 12, 2006 — Based on a script written and narrated by Algren friend Warren Leming,

Given the dark tone of Algren's work, Carmine Cervi creates his own film noir world in DV color. "Algren's Last Night" is: 'Video Noir'.

Unique and evocative cityscapes reveal a dark, haunted Chicago rarely traveled or seen.
Director/Producer/Editor/Camera: Carmine Cervi
Actor/Writer/Producer: Warren Leming



October 2014 .. Hallo out there: the new shipment of NELSON ALGREN MUG SHOT MUGS HAVE JUST ARRIVED.

We send em post paid to you.... email: for more details.
GET your order in, they'll go quickly.



The Algren Committee has a limited supply of the


Done in black and white and with Algren's mug shot, courtesy of the Chicago Police Dept., on both sides.

Greet the day with an Algren Mug Shot Mug---reminding you never to "play cards with a man named Doc.

And never to eat at a place called Ma's. And never to sleep with someone whose troubles are worse than your own."

For details email us at:





Max Vanzi is a retired writer/journalist living in Sacramento, California. Max covered the Far East and points between for the wire services as a foreign correspondent. He's an Algren fan, and spent a weekend with the Committee during the 2010 Algren Birthday party. He's done us the honor of a piece on the Committee, Algren's legacy, and his time in Chicago.





A Heroic Line of Losers: From Herman Melville to Nelson Algren by Hugh Iglarsh

MediaBurnArchive — November 03, 2009 — Studs Terkel chats and jokes with Nelson Algren at a party in Chicago.
Algren had recently moved from Chicago to Paterson, New Jersey, and this move was the subject of most of the conversation,
told mainly through deadpan jokes.


March 11, 2015

Geoffrey O’Brien
Editor in Chief, Library of America
14 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022

Dear Mr. O’Brien:

I write to you on behalf of the Nelson Algren Committee, of which I am a member – and also as a reader, a student of American literature, and an admirer of your excellent and much-needed publishing venture, which has saved many a classic text from the recycling bin and remainder table of history.

My question (which you may already have guessed) is simple: Do you plan to include any of the works of Nelson Algren in the Library of America?

Algren is not only Chicago’s top novelist, the winner of the first National Book Award for The Man with the Golden Arm and the dean of mid-century social realists, acclaimed by Hemingway as his peer and successor. He also remains a much under-read and underrated author whose reputation would benefit from the endorsement of the Library of America and the series’ presence in bookstores and libraries.

While Algren is not represented in your roster, I notice that nine volumes are devoted to Philip Roth, a writer who is alive, in print and highly publicized by his publisher. By contrast, Algren was mostly

out of print for many years and still lacks the attention he deserves in the United States (less so in Europe). This is due to the lingering effects of McCarthy-era FBI harassment and unfairly harsh attacks by critics who themselves toed the line and had little use for Algren’s radical humanism and heartfelt identification with the downtrodden. When the Cold War chill hit American letters in the 1950s, it was Algren and others like him who found themselves frozen out and used as a cautionary example for younger writers. An injustice was done to him then, which can be partially rectified now.

In short, I believe that you need Algren to fulfill your original purpose of maintaining a permanent library consisting of literary works of perennial merit, and Algren needs you to reclaim his rightful standing.

By any reasonable standard, Chicago: City on the Make, Golden Arm, Never Come Morning and Neon Wilderness are classics that still speak to us today, louder than ever. Algren had a conscience in touch with humanity, in his own phrase, and few American writers have ever chronicled so powerfully and poetically the gap between our ideals of freedom and equality and the felt reality of alienation and marginalization. While his outsider stance went out of style for awhile, his insights are still alive and compelling, as evidenced by the two documentaries about him released during the past year.

I look forward to hearing back from about this matter. If there is anything I can do to assist in making Nelson Algren part of your esteemed literary series, please let me know. Thank you so much for your attention and consideration.

Yours truly,

Hugh Iglarsh

The Nelson Algren Committee

Chicago, Illinois


The Nelson Algren Committee awards go to artists and activists who have made outstanding contributions to Chicago's Progressive community.

Nelson Algren Award Recipients


 2003 ...  Don Rose  Carlos Cortez  Jon Jost   Kate Hogan  Jim Redd            
 2004 ...  Laura Weathered  Roberto Lopez  David Williams  Peter Kuttner  Judy Hoffman            
 2005 ...   Jeff Huebner   Vesna Rebernak  Penelope & Franklin Rosemont                
 2006 ...  Glenda Daniel   Carl Davidson   Marguerite Horberg                
 2007 ...  Diana Berek  Lew Rosenbaum  Bob Rudner                
 2008 ...  John K. Wilson  Kari Lydersen                  
 2009 ...  Denis Mueller  Ken Dunn  Alma Washington                
 2010 ...  James Bond   Erwin Helfer  Erika R. Allen                
 2011 ...   Chris Drew  Maureen Murphy  Scott Sanders   Richard Wood              
 2012 ...   Paul Durica  Elliot Zashin                  
 2013 ...  Tom Palazzolo                    
 2014 ...  WZRD Radio Collective                    
 2015 ...  Katerina Carson                    
2016 ... Flint Taylor                    



Algren's Eye: Photography and the City by Warren Leming

Most recently, the BBC (Scotland) shot "A Walk on the Wild Side," in Chicago, with the co-operation of the Committee. The video documents Algren's now famous love affair with the French writer and feminist icon Simone De Beauvoir. Copies are available thru the Committee.

The Committee is making available, for the first time, a CD of Algren reading from his work. The CD will contain a long interview with Algren by Studs Terkel. There are also excerpts of Algren reading from his work. If you are interested you can write or call the Committee about obtaining a copy. Produced by Cold Chicago, the CD was originally recorded at FM station WFMT.

In addition, a map of Algren sites, fictional and real, has been created in a joint effort by artist Robert Hartzell and Nina Gaspich is now available, have a look!

Click the link to download an mpeg of the Frankie Machine Blues bands version of: Algren Street our homage to the work of Nelson Algren. The lyrics to the tune are also available.

Algren Quotes:

"Literature is made upon any occasion that a challenge is put to the legal apparatus by conscience in touch with humanity."

"The hard necessity of bringing the judge on the bench down into the dock has been the peculiar responsibility of the writer
in all ages of man."

"I went out there [Hollywood] for a thousand a week, and I worked Monday, and I got fired Wednesday.
The guy that hired me was out of town Tuesday."

"The avocation of assessing the failures of better men can be turned into a comfortable livelihood,
providing you back it up with a Ph.D."

"Books by Nelson Algren"

Somebody in Boots, Never Come Morning, The Neon Wilderness, Man with the Golden Arm, Walk on the Wild Side
Chicago: City on the Make, Who Lost an American?, Notes from a Sea Voyage, The Devil's Stocking





Copyright: Cold Chicago Company,.. 2001-2016