One Donald G. Evans recently came up with the idea of a Chicago Literary Hall of Fame as a way to recognize important writers who have (or had) ties to Chicago. From the Sun-Times,
“I don’t think you need a hall of fame,” says local author and Chicago Writers Association board member Donald G. Evans. He is spearheading efforts to establish an organization — the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame — that will honor not only deceased Chicago (or somehow Chicago-connected) greats but, eventually, the town’s most accomplished living scribes, as well. “But I think it would be a nice part of our cultural existence, and I think it’s nice to be able to easily access the history of literature.”
I don’t like the name “Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.” But I love the idea of a way to honor, celebrate, and inform people about Chicago’s Literary History. In Paris, you can see the places where writers like Balzac lived. Chicago doesn’t have anything yet that lets people know where the city’s great writers lived and congregated.
Algren’s old place on Wabansia was leveled to make way for the Kennedy Expressway. The Wicker Park neighborhood has become so gentrified that Wabansia now has Permit Parking.
So who should be a recognized Literary Great of Chicago? I’d start with the following (all of whom are nominated in the first batch for the hall of fame): Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, Lorraine Hansberry, Carl Sandburg, Sherwood Anderson, Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright, Mike Royko, Studs Terkel, Leon Forrest, Theodore Dreiser, James T. Farrell, Edna Ferber, Edgar Lee Masters, Ernest Hemingway, Harriet Monroe, Stuart Dybek, and Shel Silverstein.