Wolfe died in a Manhattan hospital on Monday, his agent Lynn Nesbit confirmed.
Tom Wolfe was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1930. He graduated Washington and Lee University, after he'd turned down Princeton University.
In addition to his novels and nonfiction books, Wolfe pioneered the "New Journalism" style, which combined reporting with creative literary techniques.
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Film fans might have been puzzled scanning IMDb on Tuesday after the death of Tom Wolfe, the beloved author of nonfiction and fiction best-sellers like "The Right Stuff" and "The Bonfire of the Vanities" that were adapted into memorable Hollywood movies. I didn't consciously model my first novel, "Turn of the Century", on Mr. Wolfe's first novel, "The Bonfire of the Vanities", but I was a middle-aged magazine journalist, and it was a big, panoramic social comedy set in NY about the media and rich people and failure, so when half the reviews and articles compared it to "Bonfire", I just shut up and smiled. These titles put him in a class with other great writers whose titles also became films like Truman Capote (1967's In Cold Blood) and Norman Mailer (1958's The Naked and the Dead). The widely influential collection helped codify the genre.
He coined expressions such as "radical chic", for rich liberals fascinated with revolutionaries, and the "me generation", which nailed the self-absorption of 1970s baby boomers.
He was never deterred by the fact that he often did not fit in with his research subjects, partly because he was such a sartorial dandy, known for his white suits. Nine years later and in a more restrained style than some of his earlier works, he wrote The Right Stuff about the first seven USA astronauts and test pilot Chuck Yeager who came before them. Wolfe is survived by his wife, Sheila, and two children, Alexandra and Tommy.