Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Date Of Birth:
11 November 1922
Date Of Death:
11 April 2007
brain injury
Place Of Birth:
Indianapolis, Indiana

Kurt Vonnegut wrote dozens of satirical novels whose central theme was life's cosmic joke on humanity. A modern-day Mark Twain, right down to the bushy mustache and black humor, Vonnegut was often called a science fiction author, but more often he used the cloak of sci-fi as a means to deliver his cranky-but-funny deliberations on the human condition. His best-known books include Cat's Cradle (1963), Welcome to the Monkey House (1968), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Slapstick (1976). Many of his books featured a character named Kilgore Trout, a fictional author who was something of an alter-ego for Vonnegut himself. Kurt Vonnegut was a World War II veteran who survived prisoner-of-war camps and the American bombing of Dresden, Germany, events that informed much of his fiction. Vonnegut was an especially fashionable author in the late 1960s and 1970s; his once-daring satire lost its literary luster in later years, but he continues to be popular with late teen and young adult readers.

Extra Credit:

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s father was also named Kurt… Vonnegut was the unwitting subject of a famous Internet hoax in 1997: a list of whimsical advice for college graduates (which began with the admonition “Wear sunscreen”) was widely circulated via e-mail, and said to be the text of a Vonnegut commencement address at MIT. In truth, Vonnegut had no connection with the essay. It was written by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary SchmichVenus on the Half-Shell, a real-life 1975 novel “by” Kilgore Trout, was written not by Vonnegut but by Philip Jose Farmer.