Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

When God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater was published in 1965, Vonnegut had not yet attained his full and enormous popularity, which would come only with Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). He was, however, already well established as a cult figure, with a following that regarded him primarily as a science fiction writer. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater was widely reviewed, receiving notice in some two dozen periodicals, including The New York Times Book Review, while Vonnegut’s previous novel, Cat’s Cradle (1963), was reviewed in only four places (though one of these, significantly, was The New York Times).

Most of Vonnegut’s important themes are to be found in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, which ranks among his top three or four novels. (God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is also significant because it marks the first appearance of Kilgore Trout, the recurring character who is one of Vonnegut’s most popular creations.) God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, like Slaughterhouse-Five, despite its pervasive, often flippant, humor, attains to an almost Dostoevskian understanding of the suffering of humanity and the necessity of realizing that “all are responsible for all. . . .”