Chicago is one of my top three US cities (along with my old home in NYC and San Francisco), and whenever I go there I think, “Oh, so THIS is how Toronto could have been if it hadn’t fucked everything up…” I spend a lot of time at the Art Institute when there–but this LitHub article is about how wring all you can of the literary dishrag there over a long weekend.
When you think of Chicago, what writers come to mind? Algren, Sandberg, Bellow? While Barack Obama—or if you prefer, Michelle—has supplanted Al Capone as Chicago’s most famous citizen, outsiders’ awareness of the literary history of Chicago has yet to be updated.
If you ask locals, though, it is continually evolving—Congress Parkway was just renamed for pioneering journalist Ida B. Wells, and Gwendolyn Brooks now has a sculpture honoring her (one of only two women so honored in the city). While Chicago honors its past, it refuses to get stuck in it, continuing to produce great writers—so many that we have instituted multiple city-wide awards to honor them.