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 World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber's son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming "unstuck in time."
An instant bestseller, Slaughterhouse-Five made Kurt Vonnegut a cult hero in American literature, a reputation that only strengthened over time, despite his being banned and censored by some libraries and schools for content and language. But it was precisely those elements of Vonnegut's writing-the political edginess, the genre-bending inventiveness, the frank violence, the transgressive wit-that have inspired generations of readers not just to look differently at the world around them but to find the confidence to say something about it. Authors as wide-ranging as Norman Mailer, John Irving, Michael Crichton, Tim O'Brien, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Strout, David Sedaris, Jennifer Egan, and J. K. Rowling have all found inspiration in Vonnegut's words. Jonathan Safran Foer has described Vonnegut as "the kind of writer who made people-young people especially-want to write." George Saunders has declared Vonnegut to be "the great, urgent, passionate American writer of our century, who offers us . . . a model of the kind of compassionate thinking that might yet save us from ourselves."
Fifty years after its initial publication at the height of the Vietnam War, Vonnegut's portrayal of political disillusionment, PTSD, and postwar anxiety feels as relevant, darkly humorous, and profoundly affecting as ever, an enduring beacon through our own era's uncertainties.
"Poignant and hilarious, threaded with compassion and, behind everything, the cataract of a thundering moral statement."-The Boston Globe
All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn’t his. Another guy I knew really did threaten to h...
Kurt Vonnegut was a master of contemporary American literature. His black humor, satiric voice, and incomparable imagination first captured America's attention in The Sirens of Titan in 1959 and established him, in the words of The New York Times, as "a true artist"…
Loved It (11)
Liked It (7)
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Hated It (1)
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Want To Read (14)
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The most well known of Vonnegut's works, although not necessarily the greatest in my view.
Beautiful , engaging writing mixed with elements of science fiction, time travel and World War II.
What a unique book! It took me a long time to get around to reading this classic, but I'm glad I finally did.
The book is about the horrors of war and trauma
Strange, strange book but so compelling. Absurd and eccentric at times. Not like anything I've read.
War literature is not my usual cup of tea. I was hesitant to begin reading this one, but I'm happy I did. There's a lot of depth. Fascinating read.
A peculiar little book, but one that manages to be both intriguing and amusing.