The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame held a ceremony to induct the first group of lions: Saul Bellow, Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Studs Terkel, Lorraine Hansberry and Nelson Algren.
Friends or relatives accepted on behalf of the writers chosen by judges who set out to honor authors "whose words have best captured the essence of our city."
Although the first six winners were picked posthumously, the Hall of Fame said it expects to also open the list to living writers.
Art Shay, a long-time friend and collaborator of Algren, accepted the award for the writer of "The Man with the Golden Arm" and many other works. (Above, Art Shay on stage accepting the award at Northeastern Illinois University.)
Ruth Kott, of the University of Chicago Magazine, who wrote about the Nov. 20 Chicago Literary Hall of Fame ceremony, noted that the Hall will be housed in the Cliff Dwellers Club on Michigan Avenue.
The hands-down highlight of the night was 88-yr-old Life Magazine photographer Art Shay, accepting for Nelson Algren.
Want to read more details about the Algren-Shay connection? Find our previous blog posts by clicking here: Nelson Algren-Art Shay.
Update Rick Kogan in the Chicago Tribune covered the evening in his piece Chicago Literary Hall of Fame inducts its first class. He included this bit of history:
The idea for this HOF was that of Don Evans, a novelist ("Good Money After Bad" and the editor of the anthology "Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting Till Next Year.") For the last two years he has been tireless in his passion for this project. He got a lot of local writers to come up with and finally vote for the people inducted, persuaded me to emcee the event and got Marc Smith, founder of the poetry slam movement, to direct it. He sat, tired but pleased, in a box in the theater with his wife, Margaret, and their young son, Dusty.
Kogan also listed a few people who are strong candidates for the class of 2011, including Carl Sandburg and Mike Royko.
Update 2 Donald G. Evans wrote his own colorful post about the evening, just published on the Huffington Post: First Induction Ceremony Honors Our Greatest Writers. Evans notes that Art Shay was curious about the display of his photos and made it to the stage with a handful of notes.
. . . we knew all time limits were a mockery.
Nobody seemed to care. Well, maybe they did--some people were hungry, and some were eager for the bar to reopen, and some had kids with sitters. Nobody complained, at least, since we all, I think, knew that this was a special occasion, and that now, as much as ever, our past was not merely a dim fading bulb, but a bright guiding light.