American novelist, born on Long Island, New York, and educated at Cornell. His novels are less concerned with character than the effects of historical and political processes on individual behaviour. Their fragmented picaresque narratives, often based around outlandish quests, blend paranoia, literary game‐playing, bawdy humour, social satire, and fantasy: science provides an important source of metaphor and subject matter. His first novel, V (1963), is a long and complex allegorical fable interweaving the picaresque adventures of a group of contemporary Americans with the secret history of a shape‐changing spy, ‘V’, who represents a series of female archetypes. The Crying of Lot 49 (1966, UK 1967), is a paranoid mystery story mixing philosophical speculation with satirical observation of American culture in the 1960s. Gravity's Rainbow (1973) is a multi‐layered black comedy set at the close of the Second World War. In Vineland (1990), participants in the ‘counterculture’ of the 1960s face up to the conservative political scene of the 1980s. Mason & Dixon (1997) is a pastiche historical novel, based on the adventures of the two 18th‐cent. British surveyors who established the Mason–Dixon line drawing parallels between the political and scientific upheavals of the Age of Reason and those of the late 20th cent.