Few novels have caused as much controversy as Hubert Selby Jr.'s notorious masterpiece. Described by various reviewers as hellish and obscene, it tells the stories of New Yorkers who at every turn confront the worst excesses in human nature. Yet there are moments of exquisite tenderness in these troubled lives. Georgette, the transvestite who falls in love with a callous hoodlum; Tralala, the conniving prostitute who plumbs the depths of sexual degradation; and Harry, the strike leader who hides his true desires behind a boorish masculinity, are unforgettable creations. Last Exit to Brooklyn was banned by British courts in 1967, a decision that was reversed the following year with the help of a number of writers including Anthony Burgess.
Hubert Selby, Jr. was born in Brooklyn in 1928. At the age of 15, he dropped out of school and went to sea with the merchant marines. While at sea he was diagnosed with lung disease. With no other way to make a living, he decided to try writing: 'I knew the alphabet. Maybe I could be a writer.' In 1964 he completed his first book, Last Exit to Brooklyn, which has since become a cult classic. In 1966, it was the subject of an obscenity trial in the UK. His other books include The Room, The Demon, Requiem for a Dream, Song of the Silent Snow, The Willow Tree and Waiting Period. In 2000, Requiem for a Dream starred Jared Leto and Ellen Burstyn and was directed by Darren Aronofsky. Hubert Selby Jr died in Highland Park, Los Angeles, California in April 2004.