NEW YORK – Novelist and journalistic trailblazer Tom Wolfe died in New York, his representative said Tuesday. He was 88.
Lynn Nesbit told The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times that the author of “The Bonfire of the Vanities” was suffering from pneumonia and had been admitted into a Manhattan hospital with an infection.
Born in 1930 in Richmond, Virginia, Wolfe had been living in New York since 1962, where he started working at the The New York Herald Tribune, making a name for himself in literary journalism as one of the pioneers of the journalistic novel genre.
Joined by figures such as Truman Capote and Gay Talese, he contributed to the creation of a hybrid style that broke away from conventional narration styles, using novelistic techniques to tell a true story.
This “New Journalism” was consolidated in the US in 1973 and featured scene-by-scene accounts, as well as full record of dialogue and “descriptive incidentals.”
Among Wolfe’s major publications is “The Right Stuff,” about the original group of NASA astronauts, which was made into a successful film.
He also painted a portrait of his country’s society, using doses of satire in works such as “A Man in Full,” “Bloody Miami” and “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” a best-seller that exposes the thirst for money and power in 1980s New York.
“He is not just an American icon, but he had a huge international literary reputation,” Nesbit told the WSJ, describing Wolfe as one of the “most modest and kindest” people she ever met.
“I never exchanged a cross word with him in our many years of working together,” she added.