Hersey, John

Tagged: Author

(1914-1993) US author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, born to missionary parents in China where he lived until he was ten; he is perhaps best known for his early book-length essay on the first use of the atomic bomb in warfare, Hiroshima (31 August 1946 The New Yorker; 1946), probably the first text to qualify as a "non-fiction novel", and the most illustrious example of the form. The Child Buyer (1960), a Near-Future story, is told in the form of a courtroom drama where corporations bid for effective ownership of child prodigies. White Lotus (1965) is an Alternate-History tale in which China conquers America and makes slaves of whites (buying them from American slavers), including the teenager renamed White Lotus; though technically a very late example of the Yellow Peril tale, the burden of the story is an examination of the nature of Slavery, and is by no means unsympathetic to Chinese civilization. My Petition for More Space (1974) is a radically Dystopian rendering of an enormously regimented Earth bedevilled by Overpopulation problems – the protagonist lives in a tiny cubicle and petitions, vainly, for an extra foot in each direction. Antonietta (1991), a Tale of Circulation tracing a Stradivarius violin from birth/construction through the centuries, verges on the fantastic. [JC]

John Richard Hersey

born Tientsin, China: 17 June 1914

died Key West, Florida: 24 March 1993



  • Hiroshima (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1946) [nonfiction: first appeared 31 August 1946 The New Yorker: hb/Warren Chappell]


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