Leif Ericson Park

Sorrentino Square

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This site is named after Gilbert Sorrentino (1929-2006), a local postmodernist author who contributed immensely to the literary world.

Sorrentino was born and raised in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and attended the nearby Fort Hamilton High School and Brooklyn College where he majored in 16th-17th century literature. His studies were briefly interrupted when he served in the Army Medical Corps for two years during the Korean War. He returned to Brooklyn College but left before finishing his requirements.

In 1956, Sorrentino was the editor of Neon, a literary magazine that he founded with college friends. He would go on to other firms as an editor until 1970. During this time, he wrote two critically-acclaimed novels, The Sky Changes and Steelwork. During the course of his life, he authored over thirty works of literature, some of which took place in his Bay Ridge neighborhood. Sorrentino earned awards including the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, and Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sorrentino retained various teaching positions in prestigious universities throughout the country. His most recent appointment was as a Professor in the English Department at Stanford University where he held the position for seventeen years. After his retirement from academia in 1999, he returned to his native Bay Ridge where he lost his battle with lung cancer on May 18, 2006. A novel was posthumously released in 2010 titled The Abyss of Human Illusion with a preface by his son, Christopher Sorrentino.

This section of Leif Ericson Park provides a quiet respite to read and reflect upon the many contributions to literature made by this prolific writer.

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