The facts of life – 52th Edition

If American novelist E.L. Doctorow turned heads among the literary community with his Welcome to Hard Times debut in 1960, he left them spinning with 1971’s The Book of Daniel. Based on the famous criminal trials and executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for nuclear espionage, his breakout opus found broad critical acclaim and a National Book Award nomination (he’d win that one 15 years later) for its blending of the mysterious with the familiar and for the innovative fashion in which he lent human faces to cold historical facts. Just like that, a signature style was born. The decades and novels that followed — including Ragtime (later adapted into a very successful film and Broadway musical), Billy Bathgate and The March — would catapult Doctorow into the top rank of latter-20th-century American writers.

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