Advertisement

Harold Brodkey; Novelist, Writer for New Yorker

Share

Novelist Harold Brodkey, once described by a critic as “an American Proust” and a controversial figure in literary circles, has died at the age of 65.

A New York Times report quoted his wife, Ellen Schwamm, also a novelist, as saying he died Friday of AIDS at his home in Manhattan. Brodkey, a longtime staff writer for the New Yorker, announced in the pages of the magazine in 1993 that he was suffering from AIDS as a result of homosexual relationships, which he said took place mostly in the 1960s.

The critic Harold Bloom likened him to Proust, but a 1988 review in Kirkus Reviews called Brodkey’s short stories an “endless kvetch.” Brodkey was best known for his novel “The Runaway Soul,” which he worked on for 32 years and published in 1991.

Advertisement

As with Proust, Brodkey’s subject was essentially the unrecoverable past. Brodkey was born in 1930 in Alton, Ill., and his mother died when he was 17 months old. He was adopted by his father’s second cousin. When he was 8, his adoptive mother contracted cancer and his adoptive father had a stroke. These events were recorded repeatedly in his writings.


Advertisement