The Bonfire of the Vanities A Novel

Tom Wolfe




Trade Paperback

704 Pages



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Tom Wolfe's first novel remains a definitive work of American fiction after more than twenty years in print. It looks at the greed and racism on New York City's underbelly in the 1980s through the eyes of four fictional individuals, composites of characteristics that Wolfe observed in society. The Bonfire of the Vanities represents Wolfe's appreciation for minute and surprising details of American culture.


Praise for The Bonfire of the Vanities

"A big, bitter, funny, craftily-plotted book that grabs you by the lapels and won't let you go."The New York Times Book Review

"A superb human comedy and the first novel ever to get contemporary New York, in all its arrogance and shame and heterogeneity and insularity, exactly right."—The Washington Post Book World

"Nasty, satirical, probing, and dead-on accurate . . . Wolfe falls so naturally into this colorful, supercharged account of New York high life and low life that it's hard to believe he hasn't been writing fiction all life . . . It also reads at a veritable gallop—those pages flash by you as you watch, with fascinated horror, the meticulously charted fall of Sherman McCoy."—The Seattle Times

"The Bonfire of the Vanities chronicles the collapse of a Wall Street bond trader, and examines a world in which fortunes are made and lost at the blink of a computer screen . . .  Wolfe's subject couldn't be more topical: New Yorkers' relentless pursuit and flaunting of wealth, and the fury it evokes in the have-nots."—USA Today

"Touches passionately on perennial themes that will give it staying power . . . Bonfire is news that will stay news because a century hence readers will find preserved in it the strong flavor of some unfortunately important slices of life in our time."—George F. Will

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Prologue: Mutt on Fire

"And then say what? say, 'forget you're hungry, forget you got shot inna
back by some racist cop-Chuck was here? Chuck come up to
"No, I'll tell you what-"
"'Chuck come up to Harlem and-'"
''I'll tell you what-"
"Say, 'Chuck come up to Harlem and gonna take care a business for
the black community'?"
That does it.
It's one of those ungodly contralto cackles somewhere out there in
the audience. It's a sound from down so deep, from under so many lavish
layers, he knows exactly what

Read the full excerpt


  • Tom Wolfe

  • Tom Wolfe is the author of a dozen books, among them such contemporary classics as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and I Am Charlotte Simmons. He lives in New York City.

  • Tom Wolfe Copyright Mark Seliger
    Tom Wolfe