American writer of short stories and memoirs, educated at Oxford and Stanford. In his first collection of stories, Hunters in the Snow (1982), Wolff introduces his recurring preoccupation with ordinary characters who are somehow alienated from society. This was followed in 1984 by The Barracks Thief, a short novel set during the Vietnam War, Back in the World (1985, stories), and The Night in Question (1996, stories). He is perhaps most widely known for two volumes of autobiography; This Boy's Life (1989) describes his early adolescence and his difficult relationships with his unstable mother and violent stepfather. This was followed by an account, often comic as well as moving, of his experiences of service in Vietnam, In Pharaoh's Army (1994). His novel Old School (2003), set in the 1960s, is narrated by a boy attending an elite New England prep school.