Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information


Pen Name: 

Genre: C:ADULT Fiction Poetry

Born: 1962 in Chicago, Illinois


Illinois Connection

Allen was born in Chicago and raised on the South Side of the city in a neighborhood that provided the setting of his first novel Rails Under My Back and the stories in his collection Holding Pattern. He attended public schools and earned his university degrees at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

effery Renard Allen is the author of five books including the novels SONG OF THE SHANK and RAILS UNDER MY BACK, which won the Chicago Tribunes Heartland Prize for Fiction; the short story collection HOLDING PATTERN, which received The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence; and two collections of poetry. Allen is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, a grant in Innovative Literature from the Creative Capital Foundation, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library


-- ''Holding Pattern '' -- *Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

-- *Starred Review, Booklist


-- ''Rails Under My Back'' -- *Heartland Prize for Fiction, Chicago Tribune


-- ''Song of the Shank'' -- *New York Times Notable Book of the Year,2014

-- *Finalist, PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, 2015

-- *Starred Review, Booklist


-- "Other Awards"

-- *Whiting Award Creative Capital Foundation

-- *Guggenheim Fellowship

-- *Twenty First Century Award,Chicago Public Library