Hubert Selby Jr., author of “Last Exit to Brooklyn” and “Requiem for a Dream,” died Monday, April 26 of a lung disease. He was 75.
Born in New York City, Selby’s experience among Brooklyn’s gritty longshoremen, homeless and the down-and-out formed the basis for his lauded but controversial 1964 novel “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” which was made into a film in 1989.
He was known for his masterful use of street language and authentic portrayals of downtrodden characters.
His lung disease was a complication of the tuberculosis he first contracted while serving at sea in WWII. He became addicted to morphine after his hospitalization and took up writing after the war.
While he had firsthand experience with the addictions that figured in his novels, his wife said he always wrote while sober and had not had any alcohol or any drugs since 1969. However, he suffered from depression and would fly into rages at times.
Selby shared screenwriting credit on the 2000 film version of his 1978 novel “Requiem for a Dream,” a harrowing look inside a family’s many addictions. His other novels include “The Room” (1971), “The Demon” (1976), “The Willow Tree” (1998) and a 1986 collection of short stories “Song of the Silent Snow.”
Selby continued to work on screenplays and teach at USC until he was hospitalized last month.
He is survived by his wife Suzanne, four children and 11 grandchildren.