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Stuart Dybek

Born: 1942 in Chicago, Illinois
Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: Dybek was born and raised in Chicago's Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods in the 1950s and early 1960s. Currently, he is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Northwestern University, in Evanston.

Biography: Stuart Dybek is the author of four other books of fiction, including Paper Lantern, published simultaneously with Ecstatic Cahoots, as well as two collections of poetry. His fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic, Poetry, Tin House, and many other magazines, and have been widely anthologized, including work in both Best American Fiction and Best American Poetry.The recipient of many prizes and awards?including the PEN/Malamud Award, an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Whiting Writers' Award, and four O. Henry Awards. After teaching for more than 30 years at Western Michigan University, where he remains an Adjunct Professor of English and a member of the permanent faculty of the Prague Summer Program, Dybek became the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He divides his time between Evanston, Illinois, Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the Florida Keys.

  • I Sailed With Magellan New York Times Notable Books, Society of Midland Authors award for adult fiction
  • The Coast of Chicago New York Times Notable Books, One Book One Chicago selection
  • Childhood and Other Neighborhoods Society of Midland Authors award for adult fiction
  • Paper Stories Starred Review
  • Other Awards and Honors PEN/Malamud Prize for distinguished achievement in the short story, Lannan Award, Whiting Writers Award, Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, several O.Henry Prizes, Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement, Chicago Literary Hall of Fame

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction; Poetry

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

Brass Knuckles (Carnegie Mellon Classic Contemporary)
ISBN: 0887484158 OCLC: 54934176

Carnegie Mellon University Press, Pittsburgh : 2004.

The poems in this powerful first book have grown from the American urban experience of the last half of this century, a time of decay and diminishing possibilities; they vary from realistic vignettes of working-class Chicago neighborhoods to prose poems elegant and spare in their surrealism. At the middle of this book and at the thematic center of the collection is Dybek’s remarkable reworking of the myth of Persephone, in which the American goddess learns to prefer the underworld and has fallen in love with Death.

Childhood and Other Neighborhoods: Stories
ISBN: 0226176584 OCLC: 52178547

University of Chicago Press, Chicago : 2003.

In Stuart Dybek's Chicago, wonder lurks in unexpected places—in garbage-strewn alleys, gloomy basement apartments, abandoned rooms at the top of rickety stairs periodically rumbled by passing el trains. Transformed through the wide eyes of Dybek's adolescent heroes, these grimy urban backwaters become exotic landscapes of fear-filled possibility, of dreams not yet turned to nightmares. Chronicling what happens when Old World faith meets the dark side of the American dream, Dybek's poignant stories of coming of age in Chicago alternately appall, amaze, and just simply entertain.

Ecstatic Cahoots: Fifty Short Stories
ISBN: 0374280509 OCLC: 857288082

A collection of fifty original mini-stories explores the need to achieve ecstatic self-transcendence as well as trust between lovers, friends, family, and strangers.

I Sailed with Magellan: Stories
ISBN: 9781429931441 OCLC: 872598427

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York : 2013.

Major new fiction from an acclaimed master From the prizewinning writer Stuart Dybek comes a superb new work: a novel-in-stories, eleven masterful tales told by a single voice with remarkable narrative power. In I Sailed With Magellan, Dybek finds characters of irrepressible vitality amidst the stark urban landscapes of Chicago's south side; there, the daily experiences of the neighborhood are transformed in the lush imaginative adventures of his hero, the restless Perry Katzek. There is remarkable music in each of Dybek's intertwined episodes, the rhythm of street life captured in all its emotional depth and unexpected humor: a man takes his young nephew to a string of taverns where the boy sings for his uncle's bourbon; a small-time thug is distracted from making a hit by the mysterious reappearance of several ex-girlfriends; two unemployed youths hatch a scheme to finance their road trip to Mexico by selling orchids stolen from the rich side of town; a young couple's amorous beach adventure is interrupted when an unexpected visitor washes ashore. As these poignant, often funny chapters unfold, Perry grapples toward the exotic possibilities the world offers him, glimpsing them even beneath the at times brutal surface of the inner-city. Throughout I Sailed With Magellan, fans of Dybek will find the captivating storytelling, the sharp, spare prose, the brilliant dramatization of resilient, inventive humanity that they have come to expect from him.

Paper Lantern: Love Stories
ISBN: 0374146446 OCLC: 857754051

A collection of short stories of love set in gritty urban environments.

Streets in Their Own Ink: Poems
ISBN: 0374529914 OCLC: 54537206

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York : 2004.

In his second book of poems, Stuart Dybek finds extraordinary vitality in the same vibrant imagery that animates his celebrated works of fiction. A brilliant and deft enactment of place, these poems map the internal geographies of characters who inhabit severe and often savage city streets, finding there a tension that transfigures past and present, memory and fantasy, sin and sanctity, nostalgia and the need to forget. Full of music and ecstasy, the poems of Streets in Their Own Ink consecrate a shadowed, alternate city of dreams and retrospection that parallels a modern city of hard realities. Throughout, one finds poetry enlivened by Dybek's signature talent for translating

The Coast of Chicago: Stories
ISBN: 0312424256 OCLC: 84854049

Bedford/St. Martin's, Boston : ©2008.

The stolid landscape of Chicago suddenly turns dreamlike and otherworldly in Stuart Dybek's classic story collection. A child's collection of bottle caps becomes the tombstones of a graveyard. A lowly rightfielder's inexplicable death turns him into a martyr to baseball. Strains of Chopin floating down the tenement airshaft are transformed into a mysterious anthem of loss. Combining homely detail and heartbreakingly familiar voices with grand leaps of imagination, The Coast of Chicago is a masterpiece from one of America's most highly regarded writers.

The Start of Something: The Selected Stories of Stuart Dybek
ISBN: 9781784702854 OCLC: 972205838

VINTAGE, [Place of publication not identified], 2017.

The Start of Something is a visionary work following the lovelorn beatniks, hard-boiled gangsters and jaded academics of America, journeying through a haze of drugs, dreams and lucid memory. Seductive and freewheeling, each story glittering with the found poetry of the street, this is the definitive introduction to a life’s work by a writer who has re-enchanted short fiction with every new collection.