2010 Infinity Award: Writing
Born May 25, 1954 in Verviers, Belgium, Luc Sante is a writer, social historian, and critic. A frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, he has written about books, movies, art, photography, music, and miscellaneous cultural phenomena for a variety of periodicals. He has received a Whiting Writer's Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Grammy (for album notes). Immigrating to the United States at a young age, he grew up speaking both French and English, a duality that proved formative to his love of prose. After attending Columbia University, he moved to the Lower East Side, where he resided during the 1970s and '80s. His experiences scavenging through street vendors’ goods and collecting books and personal mementos led him to write his most well-known book, Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York (1991). With this history of underclass New York City spanning from 1840 to 1919, Sante established himself as an acerbic and witty chronicler of New York City. Renowned as an expert on old New York, he was hired as an historical consultant for Martin Scorsese’s 2002 film Gangs of New York. Sante is currently the Visiting Professor of Writing and the History of Photography at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. His newest work, Folk Photography: The American Real-Photo Postcard 1905–1930, places a broad range of early 20th century postcards in an historical and social context.