The Subterraneans was published in 1958. It was written by the famous Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac. The Beat Generation is a group of writers who started publishing their works and gaining popularity after World War II, around the 1950s. The “Beat culture” was centered around the rejection of standard societal values, exploration of various religions around the world, drug use, and the raw portrayal of human conditions.
The novel is a partly fictional retelling of Kerouac’s own affair with an African American woman named Alene Lee in New York. In The Subterraneans, the setting is now in San Francisco, California and Lee’s alias is Mardou Fox. Even the friends that the protagonist, based on Kerouac and renamed Leo Percepied, has are Kerouac’s own friends but renamed into fictional aliases. The Subterraneans is one of the most famous Beat Generation works, full of the characteristically realistic portrayals of human lives.