Reviews

  • "Leader is our hyper-sensitive ammeter, charting the myriad effects of all this fame on his difficult, brilliant subject. A great feat of scholarship and, at the end, a moving testament to one of the last century’s greatest writers."

    Claire Lowdon, Sunday Times, **Literary Book of the Year**
  • "This will stand as the definitive account. Leader talked to the surviving three wives and drew on the memories of Bellow’s three sons, as well as more than 100 friends (and one or two enemies) and devout literary progeny including Martin Amis and the critic James Wood."

    Tim Adams, Observer
  • "This second volume of biography perfectly captures the spirit of a complex genius… Bellow calls for a sensitive balance between censure and understanding, to avoid overshadowing his genius, and it is hard to imagine anyone doing it better [than Zachary Leader]."

    George Walden, Evening Standard *Book of the Week*
  • "Zachary Leader’s monumental biography of Saul Bellow…[is] minutely researched and clear-eyed… Leader is wholly steeped in Bellow’s oeuvre and able to find all the fictional equivalents of the real people who filled his life."

    John Mullan, Guardian
  • "Leader’s portrait manages to be both subtle and even-handed… Leader’s two-volume biography is an astonishingly detailed and thoughtful record of an important life."

    Benjamin Markovits, Spectator
  • "As a friend to Saul and as an awestruck admirer of his astonishing work, I was not always at ease reading portions of this painfully intimate biography. Nonetheless, the book's sweep and majesty – like that of its subject – are not to be denied. All the personal strife is there, the controversies and the disasters, his magical power of observation, that intellect, along with a meticulous record of how, with what labor – the peasant doggedness and the meticulous workmanship and the grinding patience and the hard won inspiration – the great novels came to be written."

    Philip Roth
  • "In the second and final volume of his meticulously objective biography… [Leader] gives us all the information from every angle, rewarding the patient reader with a multi-dimensional portrait of this contradictory, conflicted, brilliant, difficult human being [Saul Bellow]. And although this is a big book, it’s actually a miracle of compression and clarity, given the size of the life. Best of all, Leader always makes time to remind us why we’re here: for the work itself, which he quotes from generously and with relish."

    Claire Lowdon, Spectator **Books of the Year**
  • "Leader’s biography is a monumental piece of scholarship… It is also thrilling to read… With this enthralling, massively detailed book, Leader has not laid Bellow bare so much as enriched him."

    David Mikics, Literary Review
  • "Leader’s work… will almost certainly become a prism through which his subject is seen from now on… a monument to this iconic figure’s legacy. Exhaustive, respectful, essential."

    Stoddard Martin, Jewish Chronicle
  • "[A] magnificently researched book... highly informative... admirable."

    Roger Lewis, The Times