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A Long Day in a Short Life

By Albert Maltz

ISBN: 9780714550633

300 pages

RRP: £8.99

As time ticks along with indifference, the inmates of the Washington District Jail drag on their daily routine behind bars. Innocent at their birth, these frail creatures who have lost their way now spend their lives shut out of society, deprived of all freedom, with little prospect of being readmitted into the human fold.

Each prisoner has a story: some of them are charged with crimes of assault, murder and manslaughter, others of forgery, robbery and larceny – others still are not guilty of anything other than having been born to certain parents at a certain time in a certain country. A Long Day in a Short Life – Maltz’s first novel to be published in the UK after being “blacklisted” by the US government – is a powerful indictment of the penal system and a strong reminder about the underlying humanity of each individual.

‘Time, the common enemy, was indifferent to this spectacle of men behind bars. Naked and innocent they had come into the world, pliable human clay that had somehow lost its way. Now these men were charged with crimes of assault, murder and manslaughter, of forgery and robbery and larceny. And though some were innocent, most were guilty as charged – yet even the latter were fundamentally not guilty of anything except the error of having been born to certain parents, at a certain time, in a certain society. These men were now locked in little cubicles of steel and stone, and when they emerged a few of them would be more warped in personality, more embittered, more rebellious. The days were long inside those cells, and a man’s life was a short thing. No man could forget it’Albert Maltz



  • A beautifully told story, full of excitement, humour and authentic American talk. A masterly piece of work that will deepen your knowledge of America

    The Worker

Albert Maltz

Albert Maltz (1908–85) was an American playwright, fiction writer and screenwriter. He won the O. Henry Award in 1938. His novel The Cross and the Arrow about the German resistance to the Nazi Regime was distributed to 150,000 American soldiers during WWII. He worked on a series of films including Casablanca, until he was blacklisted during the mccarthyism era. He is best remembered today for his novels A Tale of One January and A Long Day in a Short Life.