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Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Authors

Daniel Pinkwater

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Last Updated: Engelbrecht

Daniel Pinkwater

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Full Name: Daniel Manus Pinkwater
Born: November 15, 1941
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Occupation: Writer, Illustrator
Nationality: American


Daniel Pinkwater is an American author of children's books and "Young Adult" fiction. Well-known books include Lizard Music, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, Fat Men from Space, Borgel, and the picture book The Big Orange Splot. He has also published an adult novel, The Afterlife Diet, and essay collections derived from his talks on National Public Radio. Though many of his most well-known books are considered humorous young-adult fiction, he has written in various genres and for various audiences, and his published works range in style from picture books to adult fiction.

Many elements of his fiction are based on real events and people he encountered in his youth.

Pinkwater is a trained artist and has illustrated many of his books in the past, although, for more recent works, that task has passed to his wife Jill Pinkwater. His artistic technique varies from work to work, with some books illustrated in computer drawings, others in woodcuts and others in Magic Marker.

Pinkwater varies his name slightly between books (for instance, "Daniel Pinkwater", "Daniel M. Pinkwater", "Daniel Manus Pinkwater", "D. Manus Pinkwater").

He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Jewish immigrant parents from Poland. He describes his father as a "ham-eating, iconoclastic Jew." His parents moved to Chicago, where he grew up. He attended Bard College.

Pinkwater tends to write about social misfits who find themselves in bizarre situations, such as searching for a floating island populated by human-sized intelligent lizards (Lizard Music), exploring other universes with an obscure relative (Borgel), or discovering that their teeth can function as interstellar radio antennae (Fat Men from Space). They are often, though not always, set in thinly—or not at all—disguised versions of Chicago and Hoboken, New Jersey. He often includes Chicago landmarks and folkloric figures from his childhood in 1950s Chicago, regardless of when the book is set. An example of this is the recurring character the Chicken Man, a mysterious but dignified black man who carries a performing chicken on his head. This character is based on a shadowy figure from 1950s Chicago; after Pinkwater made him a lead character in Lizard Music he received letters from Chicago residents who remembered the Chicken Man. Pinkwater also pays tribute to the Clark Theater (a repertory movie theatre on Clark Street in the Chicago Loop that changed features daily and stayed open all night), Bughouse Square, and Ed & Fred's Red Hots. Another common theme is Jewish culture, with characters incongruously speaking in Yiddish-influenced dialogue or participating in Borscht Belt culture.

In 1995, Pinkwater published his first adult novel, The Afterlife Diet, in which a mediocre editor, upon dying, finds himself in a tacky Catskills resort populated by "circumferentially challenged" deceased.

Works in the WWEnd Database

 Non Series Works