Prophet of the neon wilder­ness

Nelson Al­gren’s 1956 novel A Walk on the Wild Side made a mock­ery of the Amer­i­can dream. Set among the pimps, whores and con men of New Or­leans, it was a brave — and pre­scient — ex­posé of the na­tion’s con­tempt for its own peo­ple, says Richard Flana­gan

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