Cass McKay, “a man alienated from family and faith, illiterate and utterly displaced,” leaves his poverty-stricken hometown in search of work, riding the rails from El Paso to Chicago, drifting from cheap lodging houses to jail, from soup kitchen to hobo jungle. Alone in a world indifferent to his fate, McKay nevertheless remains defiant and dignified in the face of his adversity.
Originally published in 1935, Somebody in Boots was Nelson Algren’s first novel, based on his experiences traveling through Depression-era America as a journalist and migrant worker. One of the first great “dust bowl” novels, its powerful realism and passionate conviction found an echo four years later in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. This new edition of Somebody in Boots features an introduction by Colin Asher, who is writing a forthcoming biography of Algren.