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  • 22 October 2009

Great Books about Chicago

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To celebrate the launch of Granta 108: Chicago, Granta has asked independent bookstores throughout Chicago to provide a list of their five favourite Chicago-related books. Granta.com will be showcasing one bookstore each week. Today’s featured bookstore is 57th Street Books.

The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon: Hemon has so fully adopted Chicago that he captures not only the landmarks and place names, but the ghosts--and with them the essence of this city. We’re proud to share it with him.

The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age by Neil Harris: The magazine issues collected in this book hearken back to a long ago, almost ancient time when Chicago was known for corruption and crime. The Chicagoan countered all that, and represented high culture with the graceful wit we still see in its longer-lived cousin The New Yorker. And it did so in gorgeous Art Deco style.

Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago by Mike Royko: For many, Richard J. Daley is the essence of Chicago politics, a sort of latter-day, Midwestern, Boss Tweed. In a city known for machine politics powerful enough to swing the state and sometimes the country, Daley’s son is the still-beating heart of that tradition.

Blueprint for Disaster: The Unraveling of Chicago Public Housing by D. Bradford Hunt: Fresh from the University of Chicago Press, Hunt’s new book is a stunning study of the administrative and practical disaster of project housing. Though this book owes a debt to Mary Patillo’s North Kenwood-focused Black on the Block, it is its own awe-inspiring tale of incompetence and failed ideals.

Division Street: America by Studs Terkel: Less a book about Chicago than about Chicagoans, Division Street is a voyeuristic and deeply personal look at a cross-section of the city’s inhabitants through Terkel’s characteristic oral histories. These are the stories and concerns of everyday people at the height of a time of great change, and perhaps the best work by one of Chicago's best-known sons.

Celebrating Granta’s special Chicago issue at 57th Street Books

Visit 57th Street Books

Find out more about ‘Chicago’

Comments (35)

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  1. beograd61

    Thu Oct 22 20:27:44 BST 2009

    I hope one of these bookstores featured gives James T. Farrell some love!

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  2. James

    Sat Oct 24 20:03:23 BST 2009

    Links to bookshops in Chicago are of very little interest to readers on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. The website should try to be of broader interest.

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  3. Jay

    Tue Oct 27 22:07:06 GMT 2009

    It occurs to me, as I am sure it has occurred to many other people, that to make some offensive or abusive remark toward James, a previous poster, would be very satisfying.

    This is not the place, James, but do know that there are many of us who loathe you.

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  4. insuranceman

    Tue Nov 01 18:02:14 GMT 2011

    @James- Yes, the location of Chicago bookshops is overly-specific for an English publication, but clearly there are American readers of both the print and the online material. By crossing the Atlantic, the website IS trying to reach a broader audience. Obviously.

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