Saul Bellow - Nobel Prize in Literature

Play Audio & View Transcripts

  • Saul Bellow: The Writer (1)

  • Saul Bellow: Early Life and Vermont (2)

  • Saul Bellow: Later Life & Vermont (3)

  • Saul Bellow's Editor for 20 years reflects on working with Bellow (4)

  • Saul Bellow's Vermont Friends: Larry Simons recalls (5)


Saul Bellow (1915-2005), an internationally acclaimed writer who won the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and other notable awards, spent much of the last 26 years of his life in the Brattleboro area. He is buried in the Shir Heharim Jewish Graveyard, part of Morningside Cemetery, in Brattleboro. Five Audio Segments explore Saul's life as a writer in Vermont and give listeners a taste of some of his work.

1 - SAUL BELLOW THE WRITER: ‘The greatest writer of the 20th century’ chose Brattleboro for his rural base. Listen to recordings of Bellow himself describing his approach to writing, with his characteristic insight, warmth and humor, including readings from Henderson the Rain King. His biographer, Professor Zachary Leader, talks about Bellow’s unique status in American and world literature.

2 - SAUL BELLOW EARLY LIFE and VERMONT: Saul Bellow talks about his childhood in Chicago and his determination to become a writer. Vermont resident Larry Simons reads an excerpt from Bellow’s acclaimed novel Herzog, and talks about getting to know the writer in Brattleboro in the 1970s. Bellow biographer Zachary Leader describes Vermont as a refuge for Bellow, and reads from Bellow’s 1994 essay ‘Vermont: The Good Place.’

3 - SAUL BELLOW LATER LIFE and VERMONT: Saul Bellow talks about receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature and how it changed his life. Larry Simons reads from Bellow’s last novel, Ravelstein, and talks about his appearance at the first Brattleboro Literary Festival in 2001. He recalls Bellow’s intellect and humor, which remained intact through his final years of physical illness and mental decline.

4- SAUL BELLOW’S EDITOR: As staff editor at Viking Penguin Press, Beena Kamlani worked with Saul Bellow during the last 20 years of his life. She stayed in Vermont for long periods helping Bellow with revisions when he became too unwell to travel. She reads her essay ‘A Race Against Time’ in which she describes the delights and challenges of working with Bellow in Vermont in his later years.

5 - SAUL BELLOW’S VERMONT FRIENDS: Larry Simons recalls good times with Saul Bellow and his wife Janis Freedman, including the night Larry introduced Bellow and another Brattleboro resident, painter Wolf Kahn.

Tour Stop Location: Shir Heharim Cemetery at Morningside Cemetery

246 South Main Street, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301, United States

Research & Production

Audio Production and Narration: Donna Blackney
Interviews and Readings:
Zachary Leader, Bellow’s biographer
Beena Kamlani, Bellow’s long-term editor at Viking Penguin Press
Larry Simons, Bellow’s friend in southern Vermont

Production assistance: Lissa Weinmann & Sandy Rouse

All audio clips of Saul Bellow from The Writing Life with Saul Bellow are reproduced by permission of HoCoPoLitSo, the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society, To hear the entire interview, visit

Excerpt(s) from HENDERSON THE RAIN KING by Saul Bellow, copyright © 1958, 1959, 1974, renewed © 1986, 1987 by Saul Bellow. Used by permission of Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Excerpt(s) from HERZOG by Saul Bellow, copyright © 1961, 1963, 1964, renewed 1989, 1991, 1992 by Saul Bellow. Used by permission of Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Excerpts from RAVELSTEIN by Saul Bellow. Copyright © 2000 by Saul Bellow, used by permission of The Wylie Agency LLC.


The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune 1915-1964 uby Zachary Leader. Published by Knopf 2015.

The Life of Saul Bellow: Love and Strife 1965-2005 dby Zachary Leader. Published by Knopf 2018.

Saul Bellow: Letters, by Saul Bellow (Author), Benjamin Taylor (Editor) Penguin Books 2012

“Vermont: The Good Place” from There Is Simply Too Much To Think About, a collection of essays by Saul Bellow. Edited by Benjamin Taylor. Penguin Books 2016. Copyright 2015 Janis Bellow.

A Race Against Time by Beena Kamlani 2015


Part 1: ‘Now or Never’ by Michael Vignola (

Part 2: ‘Backed Vibes Clean’ by Kevin MacLeod (

‘Cool Jazz’ by Bobby Cole (

Part 3: ‘Just A Thought’ by Michael Vignola (

‘Empty Days’ by Alan Spiljak (

Part 4: ‘Just A Thought’ by Michael Vignola (

Ongoing Development and Involvement:

As a community-created project, we encourage ongoing dialogue, questions, and engagement. If you would like to be involved in future developments, have information or a perspective that could deepen others' understanding of this topic, please contact us

Photos & Video

  • <p>Saul Bellow- portrait sculpted in clay by Cynthia Parker Houghton, commissioned for the Brattleboro Words Project and Words Trail</p>
  • <p>Saul Bellow with wife Janice Freedman (background) in Brattleboro</p>
  • <p>Herzog portrait</p>
  • <p>Herzog- for which Bellow won Nobel Prize in Literature- original cover</p>
  • <p>Saul Bellow</p>
  • Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow reads his fiction