Coffee House Press author and friend Sam Savage passes away at age 78

Posted by Coffee House Press on

MINNEAPOLIS, MN. January 17, 2019 — Coffee House Press is saddened by the news that longtime Coffee House author and dear friend Sam Savage passed away at age 78 in his sleep last night after a long battle with a respiratory illness.

Sam Savage’s first novel, Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife, was published when he was 65 and went on to become an international bestseller, with over a million copies sold worldwide. Firmin was followed by The Cry of the Sloth, Glass, The Way of the Dog, It Will End with Us, and An Orphanage of Dreams, which was just published this month. He was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, the PEN/New England Award, and the Society of Midland Authors Award.

A native of South Carolina, Savage held a PhD in philosophy from Yale University, where he taught briefly. Prior to attending Yale he was poetry editor of Reflections, a literary magazine published in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and was active in the Civil Rights Movement. After leaving Yale, he worked as a bicycle mechanic, carpenter, commercial fisherman, and for a time was a printer and publisher of handmade books. He spent several years in France before returning to South Carolina in 1980, settling in the small coastal village of McClellanville. In 2004 he moved to Madison, Wisconsin.

As we celebrate Sam’s life and work, the staff of Coffee House Press joins Sam’s family and readers in mourning the loss of of a remarkable author and friend, and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to publish his work and for his friendship.

Chris Fischbach, Coffee House publisher and Sam’s editor, says, “To my mind, Sam Savage is one of the greatest American novelists of the last fifty years. Working with him was one of the highlights of my life, and Coffee House is extremely proud to have helped usher his work into the world. We will miss him.”


Correction: a previous version stated that Sam Savage passed away at age 79—he was age 78. 

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