Don DeLillo was born in New York City on November 20, 1936. The son of Italian immigrants, he was raised as a Roman Catholic and grew up in Pennsylvania and in New York City’s South Bronx. He graduated from Fordham University in 1958 with a degree in communication arts. He worked for several years in advertising before quitting to devote himself to writing. Earning a Guggenheim Fellowship, he lived for a while in Greece, which served as the setting for The Names (1982).
Among DeLillo’s major works are the novels Americana (1971), End Zone (1972), Great Jones Street (1973), Ratner’s Star (1976), Players (1977), Running Dog (1978), The Names, White Noise (1985), Libra (1989), and Underworld (1997). His books were always favorably reviewed, but he did not see a major breakthrough until the publication of White Noise, which caught many readers’ attention with its depiction of a dangerous chemical leak and was honored in 1986 with the American Book Award. When DeLillo published the controversial Libra, a fictionalized version of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, he became firmly established in the canon of writers who are both successful in the marketplace, critically analyzed, and regularly included on syllabi. Besides his novels, DeLillo has published short stories as well as the experimental plays The Engineer of...
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