Robert Lipsyte is an American author best known for his novel, The Contender. The story is about a young man, Alfred Brooks, who is trying to find his way in life. Through the course of the novel, Alfred struggles with issues such as poverty, racism and violence. But more than that, he must also confront inner demons and learn to make difficult choices.
In a 2008 interview with NPR, Lipsyte revealed that he wrote The Contender to address the issues faced by inner-city youth in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He wanted to provide these young people with something they could relate to—a story that could help them make sense of their own situations and feel empowered enough to face the challenges ahead of them.
Although The Contender was written almost five decades ago, it remains relevant today. Just like Alfred Brooks back then, many young people struggle with poverty and racism; they are forced to make difficult decisions; they’re surrounded by violence; and they’re dealing with inner demons. What makes this book so powerful is that it speaks directly to these issues without being too preachy or didactic. It tells an honest story about one person’s journey through life and how he eventually finds his way out of darkness into light.