Norman Mailer stormed onto the literary scene in 1948, at the age of 25, with the publication of his first novel, "The Naked and the Dead." He drew upon his own experiences as a young soldier in the war’s Pacific theater to write the book which became a classic novel of World War II.
One of the most prolific of American contemporary authors, Mailer has written 10 novels, numerous nonfiction books, five screenplays, a biography, short stories, essays and poems. He was co-founder of the Village Voice newspaper and has been a columnist and regular contributor to leading magazines. He has also produced, directed and starred in three films.
Mailer was born January 31, 1923 in Long Branch, New Jersey. He graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a bachelor’s of science degree in engineering. Upon graduation, he was drafted into the army and served in the Philippines with the 112th Cavalry until April 1946.
After his discharge from the army, Mailer completed "The Naked and the Dead," and in 1951 published his second novel, "Barbary Shore." Many reviewers were critical of "Barbary Shore," setting the stage for what would become a career of controversial work for the author.
In a later book, "Advertisements for Myself," Mailer himself acknowledged the misfortune of a career that began on a high note. He wrote, "I had the freak of luck to start high on the mountain, and go down sharp while others were passing me." He showed his determination by aspiring "…to hit the longest ball ever to go up into the accelerated hurricane air of our American letters."
Mailer’s novels are infused with sex, violence and power. Among his controversial works are "An American Dream," "Advertisements for Myself" and "Ancient Evenings."
"Surely, there is no American writer alive who inspires greater passions, even among casual readers," wrote Scott Spencer about the colorful author in the Sept. 22, 1991 edition of The New York Times Magazine.
As a journalist, Mailer excelled. He reported on the 1968 political conventions in his book "Miami and the Siege of Chicago," and covered a massive demonstration against the Vietnam War about which he wrote "Armies of the Night" in 1967.
Mailer’s politics led him to run for mayor of New York City in 1969. One of the primary campaign platforms was the lead New York City to secede from the state of New York and become the 51st state. In the 1970s, his antifeminist pronouncements earned him widespread publicity.
Norman Mailer was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his 1979 novel "The Executioner’s Song," and twice won the National Book Award for nonfiction, first for "Miami and the Siege of Chicago," and again for "Armies of the Night." He also received the George Polk Award for "Armies of the Night." In addition, Mailer has won an impressive group of other literary awards and honors including the Edward MacDowell Medal in 1973 and the National Arts Club Gold Medal in 1976.
His latest book, "Harlot’s Ghost," is an epic of the covert world of the CIA.
Mailer is the father of eight children. He currently has residences in Brooklyn, New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts, that he shares with his sixth wife, Norris Church Mailer, a painter