Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journalist before joining the U.S. Army and serving in World War II.

After the war, he attended University of Chicago as a graduate student in anthropology and also worked as a police reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago. He left Chicago to work in Schenectady, New York in public relations for General Electric. He attributed his unadorned writing style to his reporting work.

His experiences as an advance scout in the Battle of the Bulge, and in particular his witnessing of the bombing of Dresden, Germany whilst a prisoner of war, would inform much of his work. This event would also form the core of his most famous work, Slaughterhouse-Five, the book which would make him a millionaire. This acerbic 200-page book is what most people mean when they describe a work as “Vonnegutian” in scope.

Vonnegut was a self-proclaimed humanist and socialist (influenced by the style of Indiana’s own Eugene V. Debs) and a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The novelist is known for works blending satire, black comedy and science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Cat’s Cradle (1963), and Breakfast of Champions (1973)

Books

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

In Breakfast of Champions, one of Kurt Vonnegut’s most beloved characters, the aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. What follows is murderously funny satire, as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and reminds us how to see the truth.

Cat’s Cradle

Cat’s Cradle

Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut’s cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it …

Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding ‘fathers’ of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he’s the inventor of ‘ice-nine’, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker’s three ecentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker’s Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to humankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh…

Slaughterhouse Five

Slaughterhouse Five

Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time, Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.

The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick and Colon.

— Kurt Vonnegut

I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.

— Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano

We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.

— Kurt Vonnegut, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

— Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.

— Kurt Vonnegut

How nice — to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.

— Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

— Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies. We were rolling drunk on petroleum.

— Kurt Vonnegut

Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.

— Kurt Vonnegut

And so it goes…

— Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

— Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

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