Richard Price

Bronx born and bred, Richard Price is arguably the country’s grittiest version of a zeitgeist Renaissance man. Following his first two novels The New York Times Book Review dubbed him “The Fonzi of Literature,” which may or may not have been intended as a compliment. But if early Price seemed like a flyweight greaseball with a Mean Streets obsession that verged on the romantic, his 1992 crack masterpiece Clockers established him as a writer without peer when it came to breathing life into a subject that hadn’t yet become an abstract hip-hop cartoon to millions of white kids. These days Price may be better known as a screenwriter than a novelist, but his work on HBO’s The Wire has been offered as conclusive evidence that television can possess all the power of great literature. In Lush Life, his first novel in five years, Price returns to his hometown and finds the streets as mean as ever.

William Mitchell College of Law, 875 Summit Ave., St. Paul; 651-225-8989. Magers & Quinn, 3038 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-822-4611.