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For Him, Writing a Matter of Passion

Dennis Lehane comes to BC next month to talk about his new novel, and more

Dennis Lehane (Gaby Gerster)

By Rosanne Pellegrini | Chronicle Staff

Published: Feb. 19, 2015

In a 2014 interview, best-selling novelist Dennis Lehane said, “I agree with what Gustave Flaubert said: ‘Be bourgeois and boring in your life, so that you can be violent and passionate in your fiction.’”

The talented scribe – whose works, often set in his native Boston, have garnered both critical and commercial success – went on to say his interests “pull me towards questions about violence, questions about class, questions about the haves versus the have-nots. It’s a matter of passion, it’s a matter of interest.”

Lehane will offer his insights on writing and more at a campus appearance on March 11 at 7 p.m. in Gasson 100, a Lowell Humanities Series event made possible by the Gerson Family Lecture Fund, established by John A. and Jean N. Gerson, P’14.
His visit is timely: His new novel, World Gone By, will be in bookstores on March 10.

“We’re particularly pleased to have Dennis Lehane coming to BC just as his new novel goes on sale,” said Professor of English Carlo Rotella, who directs both LHS and the American Studies Program.  

“He’s a distinguished and very popular writer with deep Boston roots, and he’s probably best known for his Boston-set stories that have been turned into movies, but this new book gives our audience a chance to encounter him as a historical novelist exploring the underworlds of Cuba and Florida in the 1940s.”

Lehane’s web site [] describes World Gone By as “a psychologically and morally complex novel of blood, crime, passion, and vengeance, set in Cuba and Ybor City, Florida, during World War II.”

Since his first novel, A Drink Before the War, won the Shamus Award, Lehane has published nine more novels – with three adapted into award-winning films – that have been translated into more than 30 languages, won the Edgar Award and many other honors, and become international bestsellers.

They include Darkness, Take My Hand; Sacred; Gone, Baby, Gone; Prayers for Rain; Mystic River; Shutter Island; The Given Day; Moonlight Mile; and Live by Night. The film rights for the latter are under option to Warner Brothers with actor Ben Affleck – another native Bostonian - as producer, writer, director and star.

Lehane also was a writer on the acclaimed HBO series “The Wire” and a writer-producer on the fourth season of HBO’s popular “Boardwalk Empire.” The 2014 film “The Drop,” featuring the late James Gandolfini in his last role, was inspired by a short story by Lehane titled “Animal Rescue,” which he has expanded for publication as a paperback original novel. He is also working on “Ness,” a drama series in development at WGN America.

Discussing his Boston focus in a 2012 Literary Bostonian interview, Lehane said: “The thing about Boston, which is why I write about it so much: There are not many places like it. Boston has character, it is a small’s a very concentrated area...and the people are unlike anybody else. I’ve traveled all around the country and Bostonians are a unique breed. So it is thrilling to write about the city and I’m grateful that I wasn’t born somewhere that’s just like anywhere else.”

For more on the Lowell Humanities Series, sponsored by the Lowell Institute, BC’s Institute for the Liberal Arts and the the Office of the Provost, see