Author Sol Yurick, a lifelong Marxist and social activist whose writings painted a gritty picture of New York City living in the 1960s and 1970s, died on Saturday in Brooklyn due to complications with lung cancer. He was 87.
Yurick's first and arguably most famous work, "The Warriors," which was published in 1965, inspired a 1979 cult-classic film. The film follows a small Brooklyn gang that makes its way through various enemy territories throughout NYC's five boroughs in an attempt to get home. Based loosely on the Greek classic "The Anabasis of Cyrus," Yurick's novel was rejected by 27 publishers before it was printed.
"The Warriors" was eventually adapted into a PlayStation 2 video game and was embraced by hip-hop groups like Wu-Tang Clan and spoofed by Nike commercials.
Born into a working-class Jewish family in the Bronx in 1925, many of Yurick's writings revolved around his home in Brooklyn. His novels "Fertig" (1966) and "The Bag" (1968), which depicted his home life, received critical acclaim.
"His work meant a tremendous amount to those who lived in the city in the '60s and '70s," Jonathan Lethem, a Brooklyn native and novelist, told The New York Daily News. "He had a talismanic quality. He was of the street, the place, the milieu that couldn't be understood without a grasp of the everyday."
In addition to his literary career, Yurick's left-wing activism defined much of his life.
A frequent protester of the Vietnam War throughout the 1960s, Yurick worked closely with key members of Columbia's far-left organization Students for a Democratic Society, while his wife had close associations with members of the radical-left Weather Underground.
Yurick enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1944, where he was trained as a surgical technician. He was discharged one year later due to an illness.
Yurick is survived by his wife Adrienne and their daughter Susanna.
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