American novelist who began his career as a script reader for Columbia pictures. His first novel, Welcome to the Hard Times (1960), reworks the western as a semi‐philosophical treatise. The Book of Daniel (1971) is a fictionalized account of the Rosenberg trial. His most commercially successful novel, Ragtime (1975), blends real‐life figures of the early 20th cent. with a cast of emblematic Jewish and African‐American characters. Subsequent work focuses on the Great Depression and its aftermath, and includes Loon Lake (1980), World's Fair (1985), and Billy Bathgate (1989). The Waterworks (1994) centres on life in 19th‐cent. New York. Among recent novels are City of God (2000) and The March (2005).