Scott Turow wrote most of his books while taking the train from his home in the northern suburbs to his downtown law office. It is now a bestseller and the bestAn estimated 30 million copies of his books have been sold, read and enjoyed.
His career will reach a turning point on the evening of October 5th. Fuller Prize From the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the Harold Washington Library. This award is named after Henry Blake Fuller, an obscure writer, editor, poet, critic and composer who lived from 1857 to 1929. His best-known work is the 1893 novel “The Cliff-Dwellers”.
Previous recipients of this honor include Sandra Cisneros, Gene Wolfe, Harry Mark Petrakis, Haki Madhubuti, Rosellen Brown, Angela Jackson, Stuart Dybek, Sara Paretsky and Sterling Plumpp. It was last year presented to me.
Turow was there that night, and seeing him reminded me of his mother and of those we had talked to many times over the years. Her name was Rita. She died in 2011, but in honor of her 90th birthday the year before I wrote this in Parade magazine, “My father was a medical doctor who was respected and loved by his patients. He endured a difficult upbringing after his mother died when he was just 4 years old. I felt his love at times, but his routine sarcasm and occasional anger often overwhelmed me. Therefore, my mother was my guide. I can say with confidence that I would not be the person I am without his love, support and unlimited belief in me.
Turow grew up with him in West Rogers Park. The family moved north, allowing him to attend New Trier High School, where he wrote and became editor of the school newspaper. He attended Amherst College, won a prestigious scholarship to Stanford University’s creative writing program, and later taught there. But he decided to turn down a teaching position at the University of Rochester to attend Harvard Law School.
His first book was “One L” and was about Turow’s first year in law school. The New York Times wrote that it “should be read by anyone considering going to law school.” Or anyone who is worried about being human.”
Turow graduated, where he began working as a lawyer, followed by novels; The first began simply, with Turow writing 13 words on a yellow Post-it note: “A man sits on a bed on which a dead woman lies.”
This note, as he told me a few years ago, “I imagined the man and woman as Rusty and his wife Barbara.”
This man is Rusty Sabich, who was introduced to readers in 1987’s “Presumed Innocent,” redefined the criminal trial novel, spent a year comfortably on the New York Times bestseller list, and was brought to cinema by Harrison Ford in the hit 1990 film. was. with the same name.
And the hits kept coming, with titles like “The Burden of Evidence” (1990), “Reversible Errors” (2002), “Ordinary Heroes” (2005), “Identical” (2013), for a total of 13 novels and three non-fiction books. and the latest, “Doubtful,” which I noted in a Tribune in 2022 review He finds Turow in “good form”. “Relaxing, yes, but also satisfyingly fresh and creative.”
This admirably prolific output is, of course, one of the main reasons why the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame honors Turow. However, throughout his literary career, he performed a remarkable juggling act while practicing law. As a U.S. attorney, he handled major cases, including serving as lead counsel at the Operation Greylord trial and later in private practice, helping save an innocent man from the death penalty. He was president of the Authors Guild, during which he filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and major publishers, claiming they conspired to raise the price of e-books.
He has also written articles for publications such as Tribune, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and The Atlantic. He wrote about the Cubs in 2016: time magazineIt reads in part: “According to anecdotal reports, there was also heavy traffic at area cemeteries the following weekend… In cemeteries across Chicagoland, fans will announce to their deceased loved ones that I was screaming in front of my house when the Cubs won Game 7 that Wednesday night: ‘Finally. ‘”
He is also a long-time member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a group that includes bestselling authors such as Stephen King, Mitch Albom, Dave Barry and Amy Tan. It was made for fun and to benefit literacy groups and other charities.
He has three adult children from his first marriage and grandchildren spread across the country. He still lives here most of the time with a lovely wife named Adriane. He looks as healthy as a man in his 70s can look.
In short, it’s easy to admire Turow, but also easy to envy him.
At the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame event, people will have some glowing words about Turow, the man, and the writer. Turow will say a few words and maybe mention his mother. Or the Cubs. Or… who knows? This, too, is part of the ongoing pleasure of having Turow and his words among us.