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The new Literary Arts stamp honors a beloved novelist

February 6, 2024

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The Postal Service will release its Saul Bellow stamp — the 34th in the organization’s Literary Arts series — on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Bellow is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century.

Born in 1915 in Quebec, Canada, he moved with his family in 1925 to the city inextricably linked with his work — Chicago.

His first writing job was for the Works Progress Administration, where he composed biographies of Midwestern authors.

He published two novels in the 1940s, but it was his third — 1953’s “The Adventures of Augie March,” written in a freewheeling, comic vernacular — that broadened his audience. It also won the National Book Award for fiction.

The book’s famous opening line references Bellow’s adopted hometown:

“I am an American, Chicago born — Chicago, that somber city — and go at things as I have taught myself, freestyle, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent.”

Bellow is the only person to have won the National Book Award for fiction three times. He received many literary accolades before his death in 2005, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize in literature.

The stamp features an illustrated portrait of the author in a fedora with a Chicago street scene in the background. Illustrator Joe Ciardiello provided the original art, based on photographs from 1982.

The stamp was designed by Ethel Kessler, an art director for USPS.

The 3-ounce stamp is available at Post Offices and at usps.com.

No national dedication ceremony is planned.

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