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Hersey, John

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(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; The White Lotus (2021), a nonfantastic television series, has no connection with the novel. 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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