The Actual (novel)

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The Actual
First edition cover
AuthorSaul Bellow
CountryUnited States
PublisherViking/Penguin Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
813/.52 21
LC ClassPS3503.E4488 A63 1997

The Actual is a 1997 novella by the American author Saul Bellow.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Like most of Bellow's fiction, the story centers on the lives of a group of passionate and anxious people living in Chicago. Harry Trellman has formed a friendship with the fabulously wealthy Sigmund Adletsky. Sigmund aims to bring Harry together with Harry's childhood sweetheart, Amy Wustrin.


Publishers Weekly called it "(a) kind of an affectionate, latter-day 'Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock", in which "plot (is) secondary".[1] Kirkus Reviews considered it to be "witty" and "sharp", with "vividly sketched characters" but "perfunctory" plotting.[2] In the Guardian, Martin Amis called it "scrupulously written".[3]


  1. ^ The Actual, reviewed at Publishers Weekly; published April 28 1997; retrieved December 9, 2018
  2. ^ The Actual, reviewed at Kirkus Reviews; published March 1, 1997; archived online May 20, 1997; retrieved December 9, 2018
  3. ^ [ Don't call him mellow Bellow], by Martin Amis, in the Guardian; published August 17, 1997; retrieved December 8, 2018