The Bonfire of the Vanities author Tom Wolfe dies aged 87

American novelist and journalist Tom Wolfe./BBC

American novelist and journalist Tom Wolfe./BBC

Wolfe's literary agent Lynn Nesbit said he died of an infection in a New York City hospital on Monday.

Known for ingenious phrase-making and white suits, he chronicled U.S. culture across five decades through books such as The Bonfire Of The Vanities, The Right Stuff and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Described as a chronicler and satirist of American culture, Wolfe believed that the only way to tell a great story was to go out and report it.

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Wolfe, who began working as a journalist for the New York Herald Tribune in 1962, was a pioneer of "new journalism", which melded traditional reporting methods and literary fiction techniques.

Both his most famous masterpieces "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and "The Right Stuff" were given the Hollywood treatment and turned into films.

Published in 1987, it became one of the best-selling books of the decade and has often been called the quintessential novel of the era. Starring Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith, it was a commercial and critical flop.

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His contributions to American literature were varied and very influential in the '60s and '70s when he wrote "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test", "Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers", "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby".

"The Right Stuff" was adopted into a film in 1983.

In addition to his writings, Wolfe was also known for his foppish style and signature white suit, though in older age he swapped out tall collars for polo shirts.

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He is survived by his wife, Sheila, and two children Tommy and Alexandra.

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