James Sallis

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James Sallis
Born (1944-12-21) December 21, 1944 (age 70)
Helena, Arkansas, U.S.
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Period 1970–present
Genre Crime fiction

James Sallis (born December 21, 1944) is an American crime writer, poet, critic, musicologist and musician, best known for his series of novels featuring the detective character Lew Griffin and set in New Orleans, and for his 2005 novel Drive, which was adapted into a 2011 film of the same name.

Sallis began writing science fiction for magazines in the late 1960s. Having sold several stories to Damon Knight for his Orbit series of anthologies, and a story to Michael Moorcock by the time he was in his mid-twenties, Sallis was then invited to go to London to help edit New Worlds just as it changed to its large format during its Michael Moorcock-directed New Wave SF phase; Sallis published his first sf story, "Kazoo" there in 1967 and was co-editor from April 1968 through Feb 1969. His clearly acknowledged models in the French avant-garde and the gnomic brevity of much of his work limited his appeal in the science fiction world, though he received some critical acclaim for A Few Last Words (collection, 1970).

Later short work (uncollected until Time's Hammers) appeared in the USA through the 1970s and 1980s.

He is the brother of philosopher John Sallis. His latest book is the 2012 novel Driven.


Sallis has worked as a creative writing teacher, respiratory therapist, musician, music teacher, screenwriter, periodical editor, book reviewer, and translator, winning acclaim for his 1993 version of Raymond Queneau's Saint Glinglin. Trained as a respiratory therapist, Sallis worked in intensive care for both adults and newborns at many hospitals. He taught writing classes at Otis College in Los Angeles and until September 2015 at Phoenix College in Arizona; he left his job rather than sign a state-mandated loyalty oath that he regards as unconstitutional.[1]



Lew Griffin series
  • The Long-Legged Fly (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1992. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 1996)
  • Moth (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1993. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 1996. New York: Walker & Co, 2003)
  • Black Hornet (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1994. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 1997. New York: Walker & Co, 2003)
  • Eye of the Cricket (New York: Walker & Co, 1997 & 2000. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 1998)
  • Bluebottle (New York: Walker & Co, 1999. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 1999)
  • The Long-Legged Fly/Moth Omnibus Edition (Harpenden: No Exit Press, 2000)
  • Ghost of a Flea (New York: Walker & Co, 2001 & 2000. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 2001)
John Turner series
  • Cypress Grove (New York: Walker & Co, 2003. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 2003)
  • Cripple Creek (New York: Walker & Co, 2006)
  • Salt River (New York: Walker & Co, 2007)
The Driver series
  • Drive (Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen Press, 2005)
  • Driven (2012)
Other novels
  • Renderings (Seattle, Washington: Black Heron Press, 1995)
  • Death Will Have Your Eyes (New York: St Martins Press, 1997. Harpenden: No Exit Press, 1997)
  • The Killer Is Dying (New York: Walker & Co, 2011)
  • Others of My Kind (Bloomsbury USA, 2013)[2]

Short stories and poetry collections[edit]

  • A Few Last Words (New York: Macmillan, 1970).
  • Limits of the Sensible World (Austin, Texas: Host Publications, 1994).
  • Time's Hammers: Collected Stories (Edgbaston, Birmingham: Toxic, 2000).
  • Sorrow's Kitchen (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2000).
  • A City Equal to My Desire (Point Blank Press, 2004).
  • The James Sallis Reader (Rockville, MD: Wildside Press, 2005).
  • Potato Tree (Host Publications, Inc., 2007).
  • Rain's Eagerness (Hemet, CA: The Aldrich Press, 2013).
  • Black Night's Gonna Catch Me Here: New & Selected Poems (Moorhead, MN: New Rivers Press, 2015).

Story anthologies as editor[edit]

  • The War Book (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1969/Panther, 1971) - includes his short story "And then the dark..."
  • The Shores Beneath (New York: Avon Books, 1973).

Selected periodicals written in[edit]

The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Transatlantic Review, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Southwest Review, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, South Dakota Review, The Edge, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Pacific Review, Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, New Worlds, TransVersions, Confrontation, Pequod, America Poetry Review, Poetry East, Alaska Quarterly Review, Poetry Now, The Chariton Review, Western Humanities Review, International Poetry Review, and Negative Capability.

Criticism, essays, and biographies[edit]

  • Difficult Lives: Jim ThompsonDavid GoodisChester Himes (New York: Gryphon Books, 1993; rev. ed., 2000).
  • Ash of Stars: On the Writings of Samuel R. Delany (Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 1996), edited by James Sallis.
  • Gently into the Land of the Meateaters (Seattle, Washington: Black Heron Press, 2000).
  • Chester Himes: A Life (Edinburgh: Payback Press, 2000. New York: Walker & Co, 2001).


  • The Guitar Players: One Instrument and Its Masters in American Music (New York: William Morrow, 1982; Lincoln, Nebraska, and London: Bison Books/University of Nebraska Press, 1994, rev. ed.).
  • Jazz Guitars: An Anthology (New York: William Morrow, 1984), edited by James Sallis.
  • The Guitar in Jazz (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1996), edited by James Sallis.

Translation work[edit]

  • Saint Glinglin (Dalkey Archive Press, 1993; trade paperback 2000) by Raymond Queneau.
  • My Tongue in Other Cheeks (Obscure Publications, 2003) — selected translations of poems from French, Spanish and Russian.

Sallis has published translations of the poetry of, among others, Raymond Queneau, Blaise Cendrars, Yves Bonnefoy, Andrei Voznesensky, Pablo Neruda, Francis Ponge, Jacques Dupin and Marcelin Pleynet. He has also translated work by Russian authors Mikhail Lermontov, Boris Pasternak and Aleksandr Pushkin, as well as Polish writer Marek Hlasko.



Eye of the Cricket was adapted for BBC Radio 7 as part of the Readings to Die For series. It aired in 2007, 2008 and 2010. The main voice artist was Ray Shell.


In 2011, Sallis' novel Drive was adapted by director Nicolas Winding Refn into a film of the same name starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan.