Monday, March 06, 2006

The Division Street Princess
Publication Month: May, 2006
Author: Elaine Soloway
Syren Book Company
Available for preorder at your favorite bookstore.

Elaine Soloway’s The Division Street Princess Tells of Old Neighborhood,
A Chapter Describes Horrific 1946 Murder and its Affect on Author

Elaine Soloway, formerly press aide to Mayor Jane Byrne and communications director for School Superintendent Ruth Love, has authored a memoir, The Division Street Princess -- a coming-of-age story of a girl, a store, and an immigrant Chicago neighborhood.

Set in the 1940s, Soloway’s memoir takes its title from the street where she lived in a three-room flat above her family’s grocery store and from the pet name her father gave her. In her tale of bookies, poolrooms, sidewalk playgrounds, and relatives who lived down the block, we learn about her embattled parents, adored older brother, and neighborhood kibitzers.

Along with her recollections and historical photographs of a vibrant old neighborhood, she also shows the underside of childhood and urban life. Although far from the Holocaust and the war overseas, Soloway faced dangers close to home. When six-year-old Suzanne Degnan is murdered (William Heirens, who was convicted of the crime, remains in prison today), the offense and the city’s lurid newspaper coverage traumatized Soloway, as does a more personal experience that same year.

As Soloway struggled to find her own identity, the family store and Division Street waged battles too: for post-war prosperity, television, supermarkets, and suburbia threatened an end to corner stores—and to old neighborhoods everywhere.

Elaine Soloway is a public relations consultant and freelance writer whose essays have appeared in many publications including New York Times Money & Business, Chicago Tribune WomanNews, Chicago Jewish News, and others. Her long career in public relations has focused on housing, health care, and economic development.

Soloway lives in Chicago’s Irving Park neighborhood with her husband Tom and golden retriever Buddy, and has two daughters and two grandchildren. Both daughters began their careers in the Chicago theatre scene and are in the entertainment industry: Faith is a musician and producer of rock operas who also works in a violence prevention program with the Boston public schools. Jill lives in Los Angeles and was a writer on the HBO series, “Six Feet Under,” and is the author of Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants (Free Press).

Elaine Soloway can be reached at 773-478-1351 or