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'Bonfire of the Vanities' author Tom Wolfe dies aged 88

The acclaimed writer passed away in a New York hospital according to his agent.

Tom WolfeTom Wolfe, pictured in July 2016Source: Bebeto Matthews/AP

AUTHOR TOM WOLFE, who chronicled everything from hippies to the space race before turning his sharp eye to fiction, has died. He was 88.

Wolfe's agent Lynn Nesbit told the Associated Press that Wolfe died in a Manhattan hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment for an infection.

Additional details were not immediately available.

The 'new journalism' reporter and novelist insisted that the only way to tell a great story was to go out and report it. His writing style was rife with exclamation points, italics and improbable words.

Among his acclaimed books were The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities, a satire of Manhattan-style power and justice that became one of the best-selling books of the 1980s.

During a prolific career, Wolfe turned his scathing pen to pop culture, the hippie movement, the art world, LSD, race relations and the lives of astronauts.

A dapper dresser and New York icon, Wolfe was known for his trademark white suits, homburg hats and white kid gloves.

Wolfe started his career as a newspaper reporter.

His first book, a collection of articles about the flamboyant Sixties, was published in 1965 as The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.

The book became a bestseller and established Wolfe as a leading figure in the 'new journalism' movement, which also included in its ranks Hunter S Thompson, Norman Mailer, and Truman Capote.

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Wolfe's 1979 bestseller The Right Stuff focused on the US astronauts involved in the space race with the Soviet Union.

It was made into a Hollywood hit starring Sam Shepard and made the test pilot Chuck Yeager a household name.

Wolfe moved to writing novels in the mid-1980s, penning The Bonfire of the Vanities.

A snapshot of the moneyed life in New York, it was recognised as an essential American novel of the 1980s and was later made into a film starring Tom Hanks.

With © – AFP, 2018

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