Alan Sillitoe dies

Novelist Alan Sillitoe died today at the age of 82, his family said.

The Nottingham-born writer, whose novels marked him out as one of the Angry Young Men of British fiction who emerged in the 1950s, died at Charing Cross hospital in London.

His son, David, said he hoped his father would be remembered for his contribution to literature…

There was a period when Sillitoe was the most widely read writer in the English language in the world. Not just for his first two novels; but, his heartfelt contempt for Western politics and the move from serious dialectical conflict to media management.

He rejected Cold War ideology out of hand.

Sillitoe left school at 14 and worked in a bicycle factory in his native Nottingham before serving in the RAF.

His breakthrough came with the publication of the novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning in 1958.

It was made into a film, starring Albert Finney, as was his next novel The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, which featured Tom Courtenay in the lead role.

The opening scene in the film version of “Saturday night and Sunday morning” rolls down from the polluted clouds over industrial Nottingham into the clatter of the Raleigh factory and Albert Finney describing the day-by-day lot of industrial workers like himself – “but, you don’t let the bastards grind you down!”

Both are seen as classic examples of kitchen sink dramas reflecting the reality of life in Britain at the mid-point of the 20th century.

Just as clear, just as sharp, his description fit the alienation of young industrial workers in America. The joyless days of a nation climbing onto the imperial throne recently departed by the Brits.

“Saturday night and Sunday morning” and his later works were about me and my mates here in the States just as much as the industrial heart of England.

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