Thursday, July 23, 2015

EL Doctorow: 'He showed how a great literary imagination can illuminate the present through the prism of the past'

He was a a bestselling novelist who wrote serious fiction. He radiated curiosity and intelligence. Mark Lawson pays tribute to a great American original

EL Doctorow in Paris in 1990
EL Doctorow in Paris in 1990 Photograph: Sophie Bassouls/Sygma/Corbis
The American writer EL Doctorow, who died on Tuesday in New York at the age of 84, represented a series of paradoxes. He was a committed literary modernist who almost never depicted his own times. Despite being a longtime academic whose photograph would perfectly have illustrated a dictionary entry for “professor”, his sure populist touch resulted in his novels becoming bestsellers and being adapted into Hollywood movies and a Broadway musical. Yet, although these works brought him unusually broad audiences for a serious novelist, Doctorow never quite achieved the fame of his contemporaries such as Philip Roth and John Updike.

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