Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
(November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American author.
In a career spanning over 50 years, Vonnegut published fourteen novels,
three short story collections, five plays, and five works of
He is most famous for his darkly satirical, best-selling novel
Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Vonnegut attended Cornell
University, but dropped out in January 1943 and enlisted in the United
States Army. He was deployed to Europe to fight in World War II, and was
captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. He was interned
in Dresden and survived the Allied bombing of the city by taking refuge
in a meat locker. After the war, Vonnegut married Jane Marie Cox, with
whom he had three children. He later adopted his sister's three sons,
after she died of cancer and her husband died in a train accident.
Vonnegut published his first novel, Player Piano, in 1952.
The novel was reviewed positively, but was not commercially successful.
In the nearly twenty years that followed, Vonnegut published several
novels that were only marginally successful, such as Cat's Cradle (1963)
and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1964). Vonnegut's magnum opus,
however, was his immediately successful sixth novel,
Slaughterhouse-Five. The book's antiwar sentiment resonated with its
readers amidst the ongoing Vietnam War, and its reviews were generally
positive. After its release, Slaughterhouse-Five went to the top of The
New York Times Best Seller list, thrusting Vonnegut into fame.
He was invited to give speeches, lectures, and commencement addresses
around the country and received many awards and honors.
Later in his career, Vonnegut published several autobiographical essay
and short-story collections, including Fates Worse Than Death (1991),
and A Man Without a Country (2005). After his death, he was hailed as a
morbidly comical commentator on the society in which he lived, and as
one of the most important contemporary writers. Vonnegut's son Mark
published a compilation of his father's unpublished compositions,
titled Armageddon in Retrospect. Numerous scholarly works were released,
examining Vonnegut's writing and humor.