'Legend' Tom Wolfe dies

'Legend' Tom Wolfe dies

American author and journalist Tom Wolfe, who wrote Electric Kool Aid Acid TestThe Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities, has died at the age of 88.

Wolfe died on Monday (14th May) after being hospitalised for an infection in New York City, his agent Lynn Nesbit confirmed.

Born in Richmond, Virginia, Wolfe developed a new form of literature known as the New Journalism, which used literary fiction-writing techniques in journalism.

Before becoming a novelist, Wolfe worked in newspapers including for The New York Herald Tribune. He went on to write bestsellers such as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test in 1968, The Right Stuff in 1979 and The Bonfire of the Vanities in 1987, exploring themes of hippies, space travel and 1980s greed. He also co-edited an anthology in 1973 called The New Journalism (Picador), containing contributions from contemporaries Norman Mailer and Truman Capote.

Vintage, publisher of The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities, paid tribute to him as a man "of legend" and a "pillar" of the Cape list.

Cape associate publisher Dan Franklin said: "I first fell under Tom Wolfe’s spell during my hippie days, Electric Kool Aid Acid Test being a compulsory text, then came the amazing The Right Stuff and Bonfire of the Vanities, showing that there was nothing that this man couldn’t do, and that despite his many imitators no one did it better. Indeed no one wrote a sentence like Tom Wolfe did, full of capitals and exclamation marks and begging to be read aloud.

"In person Wolfe was the Southern gentleman of legend, kind, funny, old-fashioned. He was a pillar of the Cape list and will be much missed."

Post 1998, Wolfe has sold 213,689 copies for £2.15m through Nielsen, his bestseller the 1999 edition of The Bonfire of the Vanities at 50,500 copies sold.