Born: September 17, 1922
Ohio connection: Birth
Born in Cleveland, Bourjaily grew up in Connecticut, New York, and Virginia. His parents, who separated when he was eleven, were both writers; his Lebanese-born father a journalist and publisher, and his mother a journalist and author of romance fiction. Expelled from a Pennsylvania prep school for smoking, he graduated from Handley High School in Winchester, Virginia in 1939, after which he enrolled in Bowdoin College. Leaving college in 1942, he spent two years as a volunteer ambulance corpsman in the Middle East and Italy, then served for two years in the U.S. Army. Those four years of wartime service abroad were a crucible of sorts for Bourjaily; World War II and its meaning for Americans of his generation are central themes of his early fiction. Primarily a novelist, Bourjaily also wrote a number of essays, articles, and plays. Additionally, he was a teacher who spent more than twenty years at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and five years at the University of Arizona prior to becoming the first director of the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing at Louisiana State University. Bourjaily died August 31, 2010 in Greenbrae, California.
National Book Award nomination for Brill among the Ruins, 1970. American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, 1993.