American novelist, born in the Bronx, New York, and educated at Fordham University. Like Pynchon, he employs black comedy and the language of science to deal with themes of paranoia and consumerism.
His first book, Americana (1971), was followed by End Zone (1972), and Great Jones Street (1973). Ratner's Star (1976), is a sprawling fable about scientific understanding and the nature of fiction. Subsequent works exhibit greater sophistication: Players (1977) deals with language, terrorism, and the sterility of affluent urban lives; Running Dog (1978) concerns the search for a pornographic film shot in Hitler's Berlin Bunker; The Names (1982) is about a murderous sect; and White Noise (1984) is an environmental disaster story narrated by the professor of Hitler studies at a mid‐western University. His version of the Kennedy assassination, Libra (1988), focuses on the role of Lee Harvey Oswald in shaping the American psyche. Both Mao II (1991), a postmodern tale of celebrity, terrorism, and the behaviour of crowds, and Underworld (1997), a multi‐layered secret history of the Cold War, examine the significance of spectacular events and media imagery in shaping the development of memory, history, and mass psychology. Recent novels include The Body Artist (2001), a strange but moving ghost story, and Cosmopolis (2003), charting a day in the life of a billionaire.