Robert Stone (1937 – )

Robert Stone (born 1937) is a critically well regarded American novelist, whose work is typically characterized by psychological complexity, political concerns, and dark humor.

Stone was born in Brooklyn, New York. Until the age of six he was raised by his mother, who suffered from schizophrenia; after she was institutionalized, he spent several years in a Catholic orphanage.

He dropped out of high school in 1954 and joined the Navy for four years, where he worked as a journalist. In the early 1960s, he briefly attended New York University; worked as a copyboy at the New York Daily News; married and moved to New Orleans; attended a workshop with Wallace Stegner in San Francisco, where he began writing a novel; met the influential Beat Generation writer Ken Kesey and travelled with the Merry Pranksters, before returning to New York.

In 1967 Stone published his first novel, A Hall Of Mirrors, which won a William Faulkner Foundation award for best first novel. Set in New Orleans in 1962 and based partly on actual events, the novel depicted a political scene dominated by right-wing racism, but its style was more reminiscent of Beat writers than of earlier social realists: alternating between naturalism and stream of consciousness, with a large cast of often psychologically unstable characters, it set the template for much of Stone's later writing. It was adapted into the 1970 film WUSA. The novel's success led to a Guggenheim Fellowship and began Stone's career as a professional writer and teacher.

His second novel, Dog Soldiers (1974), was a thriller of sorts about a journalist smuggling heroin from Vietnam (where Stone had briefly travelled as a war correspondent in 1971). It won the 1975 National Book Award, and was also adapted into a film, Who'll Stop the Rain.

Damascus Gate (1998), about a man with messianic delusions caught up in a terrorist plot in Jerusalem.

Stone currently lives in New York with his wife. He has two children.

Books by Robert Stone