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E.L. Doctorow biography

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E.L. Doctorow

E.L. Doctorow

How to pronounce E.L. Doctorow: DAHK-tuh-row (emphasis on the first syllable. Russian for 'son of a doctor')

E.L. Doctorow Biography

Named for Edgar Allan Poe, Edgar Lawrence Doctorow occupies a central position in the history of American literature. On a shortlist that might also include Philip Roth, Toni Morrison, John Updike, Saul Bellow, and Don DeLillo, E. L. Doctorow is generally considered to be among the most talented, ambitious, and admired novelists of the second half of the twentieth century. Long celebrated for his vivid evocations of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American life (particularly New York life), Doctorow has received the National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, the William Dean Howell Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal.

Doctorow was born in New York City on January 6, 1931, and, like the novelist Everett in City of God, attended the Bronx High School of Science. After graduating with honors from Kenyon College in 1952, he did graduate work at Columbia University and served in the U.S. Army, which stationed him in Germany. In 1954, he married Helen Setzer. They have three children. Doctorow was senior editor for New American Library from 1959 to 1964 and then served as editor in chief at Dial Press until 1969. Since then, he has devoted his time to writing and teaching. He holds the Glucksman Chair in American Letters at New York University and over the years has taught at several institutions, including Yale University Drama School, Princeton University, Sarah Lawrence College, and the University of California, Irvine.

With The Book of Daniel, his third novel, Doctorow emerged as an important American novelist with a strongly political bent. A fictional retelling of the notorious Rosenberg spy case, the novel deftly evokes the complex anxieties of Cold War America, shuttling back and forth in time from the 1950s, when Paul and Roselle Isaacson are convicted and electrocuted, to the late 1960s, when their troubled son, Daniel, a grad student at Columbia, must deal with the consequences of his unusual birthright. The Book of Daniel was adapted in 1983 into the film, Daniel, starring Timothy Hutton and directed by Sidney Lumet. Four years after The Book of Daniel came Ragtime, a dazzling reimagining of the United States at the dawn of the twentieth century by means of a plot that, like City of God, ingeniously brings together real-life figures—such as Henry Ford, J. P. Morgan, Harry Houdini, and Emma Goldman—with an array of invented characters. Ragtime was named one of the 100 best English-language novels of the twentieth century by the editorial board of the Modern Library and was adapted into a successful Broadway musical in 1998. The March was published in 2005.

In 2009 he was short listed for the Man Booker International Prize honoring a writer's lifetime achievement in fiction, and in 2012 he won the PEN Saul Bellow Award. In 2013 the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him the Gold Medal for Fiction.

Widely acclaimed for the beauty of his prose, his innovative narratives, his feel for atmospherics, and above all for his talent for evoking the past in a way that makes it at once mysterious and familiar, Doctorow has created one of the most substantial bodies of work of any living American writer.

E.L. Doctorow's website

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Books by this Author

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Andrew's Brain jacket All the Time in the World jacket Homer & Langley jacket Creationists jacket
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Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes for E.L. Doctorow but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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    Tyler Anbinder is a professor of history and former chair of the History Department at George Washington University. His first book, Nativism and Slavery, won the Avery Craven Prize of the Organization of American Historians.... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    City of God

    Try:
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    by Tyler Anbinder

  • Mira Bartok

    Mira Bartok

    Mira Bartók is a Chicago-born artist and writer and the author of twenty-eight books for children. Her writing has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies and has been noted in The Best American Essays ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Homer & Langley

    Try:
    The Memory Palace
    by Mira Bartok

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