Iowa Writes

Algren Meets Donoso

True story, Word of Honor:
Back in 1966, with the Vietnam War going on,
in September, the start of a new academic year
at the legendary Writers’ Workshop
out at the University of Iowa,
I introduced the world-class novelist Nelson Algren,
onetime lover of Simone de Beauvoir,
wife of Nobel Laureate Jean-Paul Sartre,
to the world-class novelist José Donoso,
nickname “Pepe,”
both of them now in Heaven.

We three had all gone bust,
and so had come to work as teachers
of Creative Writing.
I explained to Nelson
that José, that Pepe, was from Chile.
Nelson thought a moment,
possibly about Simone de Beauvoir.
And then he said to José, to Pepe,
“It must be nice to come
from a country
that long and narrow.”

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


Writer and artist Kurt Vonnegut is a former teacher in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

"Algren Meets Donoso" first appeared in the Winter 2005/06 issue of The Iowa Review.

This page was first displayed
on February 04, 2007

Find us on Facebook