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David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace (1962-2008) was an American writer best known for his novel Infinite Jest, published in 1996 and often hailed as one of the best books of the 20th century. Wallace also wrote short stories and essays, and taught literature at several American colleges.

Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York, moving to Champaign, Illinois, when his father became a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Wallace attended Amherst College, where he majored in English and philosophy, and graduated in 1985. His senior thesis became his first novel, The Broom of the System. He then attended the University of Arizona where he received a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.

In 1991, Wallace began teaching at Emerson College in Boston, before moving to Illinois State University the following year. In this same year, he began work on his second novel, Infinite Jest, which was published in 1996. The lengthy and complex book has been called an encyclopedia novel, a semi-satiric look at a future North America super state.

In 1997, Wallace received both a MacArthur Fellowship and the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction. In 2002, he became the Roy E. Disney Professor of Creative Writing and English at Pomona College. David Foster Wallace hanged himself in 2008, after suffering from depression for more than 20 years. His last, unfinished novel, The Pale King, appeared in 2011.

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