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Tom Wolfe, ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’ Author, Dies at 87

Wolfe emerged as a major figure in the 1960s New Journalism movement before turning to fiction

Tom Wolfe, the iconic author of works such as “The Bonfire of the Vanities” and “The Right Stuff,” died on Tuesday in New York City, the New York Times reported. He was 87.

Wolfe’s longtime agent Lynn Nesbit told the paper the author was battling an infection in recent days.

In addition to his novels, Wolfe was also the author of various articles and essays, like his 1970 piece, “Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s.” His works were known for their sharp commentary and cultural analysis.

With his iconic white suits, Wolfe had been a fixture of New York City since joining the New York Herald Tribune in 1962. A towering figure in the city’s literary world, Wolfe published works well into his eighties. His last work, “The Kingdom of Speech,” was published in 2016.

Wolfe was known for the technique of saturation reporting, which involved him embedding himself with his subjects for long periods of time. The move is also employed by his literary contemporary Robert Caro.

“You casually have to stay with the people you are writing about for long stretches,” said Wolfe in 1970 while explaining the move. “Long enough so that you are actually there when revealing scenes take place in their lives.”

Wolfe remained a consistent figure in New York City until his final months, attending a memorial service for his old friend, ex-Page 6 gossip queen Liz Smith in February.