Wolff, Tobias

Wolff, Tobias

▪ American author
in full  Tobias Jonathan Ansell Wolff 
born June 19, 1945, Birmingham, Ala., U.S.

      American writer primarily known for his short stories, in which many voices and a wide range of emotions are skillfully depicted.

      Wolff's parents divorced when he was a child; from age 10 until he joined the U.S. Army, he traveled with his mother, who relocated frequently and finally settled in Seattle, Washington, where she remarried. Wolff wrote about his childhood in the 1950s, including his relationship with his abusive stepfather, in This Boy's Life: A Memoir (1989; filmed 1993). His older brother, the novelist Geoffrey Wolff, was brought up by their father and wrote about his childhood in The Duke of Deception: Memories of My Father (1979). The brothers were reunited when Tobias was a young teenager.

      Wolff served in Vietnam, after which he was educated at the University of Oxford (B.A., 1972; M.A., 1975) and Stanford University (M.A., 1978). He was appointed writer in residence at Syracuse (New York) University. His first published collections of short stories were In the Garden of the North American Martyrs (1981; U.K. title, Hunters in the Snow) and Back in the World (1985). Wolff also edited several anthologies of short stories, including Matters of Life and Death: New American Stories (1983), A Doctor's Visit: The Short Stories of Anton Chekhov (1987), and The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories (1994).

      Other works by Wolff include the novella The Barrack's Thief (1984); the memoir In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of a Lost War (1994), about Wolff's experiences and maturation in Vietnam; and The Night in Question (1996), a collection of 14 stories, many of which again reflect Wolff's time in Vietnam.

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Universalium. 2010.

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