The Man with the Golden Arm tells the story of Frankie Machine, the golden arm dealer at a back street Chicago gambling den. Frankie reckons he's a tough guy in the Chicago underworld but finds that he's not tough enough to kick his heroin addiction. With consummate skill and a finely-tuned ear for the authentic dialogue of the backstreets, Algren lays bare the tragedy and humour of Frankie's world.
Nelson Algren was born in 1909 in Detroit and lived mostly in Chicago. His published works including A Walk on the Wild Side (which inspired the Lou Reed song of the same name), Somebody in Boots and Never Come Morning. He was also a prolific writer of short stories, essays, travelogues and poems. In 1950 The Man with the Golden Arm earned him the first American National Book Award. His life was a succession of gambling problems, disastrous marriages and wild extremes - ranging from Texas prisons and skid-row soup-kitchens to Hollywood parties and literary celebrations. He also had a passionate love affair with French feminist Simone de Beauvoir. Algren died in 1981, shortly after being appointed as a fellow of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.