by Colleen Taylor Sen
James Thomas Farrell (1904-1979) was considered by many as the greatest Irish American novelist, Farrell wrote more than 50 novels and short story collections. He grew up in a South Side Irish working class family and attended the University of Chicago for three years. His most famous work, the Studs Lonigan trilogy (1932-1935), was made into a movie in 1960. The trilogy was voted number 29 on the Modern Library’s list of the 100 best novels of the 20th Century. It chronicles the life of a young man from a similar background as the author whose miserable life ends in an early death. The novel, a classic of naturalism, paints a depressing picture of economic and social conditions of the time and milieu. Farrell’s writing may be out of fashion today but it had a major impact on writers such as Norman Mailer.