Scott Turow was born on April 12, 1949, in Chicago, to David D. Turow, a gynecologist, and Rita Pastron Turow, an author of children’s books. His early years were spent in that city in what he called a “nouveau-riche Jewish ghetto.” When he was thirteen, his family moved to the wealthier, more middle-American Chicago suburb of Winnetka, Illinois.
In Winnetka, Turow endured what he characterized as a “quiet current of anti-Semitism” and failed freshman English at the prestigious New Trier High School. He responded with his first literary success, becoming editor of the school newspaper, later formulating plans to pursue a writing career and sidestepping his parents’ wishes for him to become a doctor.
In 1966, Turow entered Amherst College, where, as an English major, he was influenced by Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet (1962) and Robert Stone’s A Hall of Mirrors (1967). By the end of his freshman year, Turow had completed his first novel. The manuscript was rejected by numerous publishers, but a personal response from an editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux both encouraged him to keep writing and led eventually to a long-term relationship with the publisher.
While still an undergraduate, Turow was also encouraged by the celebrated short-story writer Tillie Olsen and by acceptance of one of his own short stories by the Transatlantic Review. After obtaining his B.A. from Amherst in 1970, he accepted a creative writing fellowship at Stanford University. While there, he completed a second novel, which, like the first, was roundly rejected (once again, however, Farrar, Straus and Giroux was encouraging). The plot, centering on a rent strike, reflected Turow’s interest in civic policy and thus the law. After teaching creative writing at Stanford for four years and receiving his M.A., yet needing a practical career to support his family, he enrolled at Harvard Law School.
Turow had not, however, abandoned his literary ambitions. Before he entered law school, his agent negotiated a $4,000 advance from Putnam Books for a nonfiction account of his...
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