Cover image for Mao II
Mao II
DeLillo, Don.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 1991.
Physical Description:
241 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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Author Notes

Don DeLillo was born in the Bronx, New York on November 20, 1936. He received a bachelor's degree in communication arts from Fordham University in 1958. After graduation, he was a copywriter for an advertising company and wrote short stories on the side. His first story, The River Jordan, was published two years later in Epoch, the literary magazine of Cornell University.

His first novel, Americana, was published in 1971. His other works include Ratner's Star, The Names, Libra, Underworld, The Body Artist, Cosmopolis, Falling Man, Point Omega, and The Angel Esmeralda, a collection of short stories. He won several awards including the National Book Award for fiction in 1985 for White Noise, the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1992 for Mao II, the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction in 2010, and the inaugural Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction in 2013.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Each of DeLillo's previous nine novels ( White Noise ; Libra ; etc.) has been a tour de force. This newest work is another remarkable achievement. It is almost as if DeLillo's words have value apart from the story they recount; sentences chill, scenes amaze, chapter endings reverberate, and the reader is transfixed. A reclusive novelist, Bill Gray, is drawn back into the world by acts of terrorism and by the visit of a woman who has come to photograph him for her ongoing and endless project to capture the images of the world's authors. Gradually, the novel, dense but accessible, concerns itself with the inevitable conflict between the power of the crowd and the power of the individual. Which is the motor of the world: The novelist, who may write alone in his room and yet affect masses? The terrorist, who is an individual working in concert with a larger movement which he may or may not control? The ``master'' who controls masses? (The lover of Gray's assistant has been a Moonie: the opening scene, a mass wedding, is a brilliant set piece). The beauty of DeLillo's prose enlivens such seemingly dry questions. Mao II reconfirms DeLillo's status as a modern master and literary provocateur. 75,000 first printing; BOMC selection; first serial to Esquire and Granta. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This extraordinary story focuses on one Bill Gray, a reclusive writer whose legend abounds while he slowly deteriorates from drinking, drugs, and depression. His assistant Scott keeps his image alive yet mysterious. ``Years ago there were stories that Bill was dead, Bill was in Manitoba, Bill was living under another name, Bill would never write another word. . . . . Now Bill was devising his own cycle of death and resurgence. It made Scott think of great leaders who regenerate their power by dropping out of sight and then staging messianic returns. Mao Zedong of course.'' Enter Brita Nilsson, photographer of writers and terrorists, who captures Bill's likeness on film for the first time in more than three decades and pushes him to publish his last great novel. Publisher Charlie gives Bill a PR offer he can't refuse, and the story concludes on the violent streets of Beirut. DeLillo's style is wonderfully expressive yet dark in tone. Readers will thoroughly enjoy it. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/91.-- Kevin M. Roddy, Oakland P.L., Cal. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In this, his tenth novel, Don DeLillo returns to territory familiar to readers of his earlier novels, especially Players (1977), White Noise (1985), and Libra (CH, Dec'88). The plot revolves around Bill Gray, author of two novels, a near-total recluse who has been working on another novel for 20 years. At the advice of a photographer and editor, he agrees to make a public appearance in support of a Swiss poet abducted by Beirut terrorists. Soon Gray is wending his way to the Middle East on a selfless yet also self-serving mission. As in all his novels, DeLillo uses his characters to give free play to a host of ideas, not the least of which here is the complex nexus between writing and terrorism and the usurpation of a culture's vitality by those most bent on its destruction. Once again, DeLillo's prose is pointedly direct and precise as he plumbs the recesses of paranoia and personal and social uncertainty in an era desperately yearning for stability. DeLillo continues to be one of contemporary American fiction's most compelling voices.-D. W. Madden, California State University, Sacramento