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Selby, Hubert, Jr.

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Sc-Tr)

(US, 1928– )

Born in Brooklyn, Selby saw war service with the Merchant Marine and was hospitalized with tuberculosis, during which time he became addicted to morphine. His fiction is both extreme and morally serious, and includes detailed descriptions of drug dependency, paranoid states of mind, rape, and sado-masochistic sexual fantasies. Though his intention is to put readers through a wrenching experience, Selby also brings compassion to his visions of modern urban hell, often combining street language with biblical echoes. His best-known book is Last Exit to Brooklyn (1964), the subject of a landmark obscenity trial at the Old Bailey. The Room (1971) explores the mind of a prisoner, switching between first- and third-person narration as it describes his fears, fantasies of revenge against the police and the legal system, and sexual obsessions. The Demon (1976) and Requiem for a Dream (1978) are equally not for the squeamish, dealing respectively with sex and narcotics.

Samuel Beckett, James Kelman, Bret Easton Ellis  JS

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