William Gaddis was born on December 29, 1922, in Manhattan, New York City. He was an American novelist. In Recognition of William Gaddis (1984) is a collection of essays supporting the view that Gaddis is the Herman Melville of the twentieth century. The comparison may prove justified, not only because of artistic similarities, but also because both writers suffered from years of neglect before achieving fame. Gaddis' novel The Recognitions (1955) baffled and angered most of its initial reviewers, but it has slowly, steadily attracted a growing number of appreciative readers willing to work through its more than 900 demanding pages. Its length and encyclopedic complexity caused some critics mistakenly to hail it as the American Ulysses, but Gaddis disclaimed much knowledge of James Joyce. It was named one of TIME magazine's 100 best novels from 1923 to 2005. As if to make amends for the neglect of The Recognitions, most reviewers greeted Gaddis' second novel, JR (1975), with respectful attention. Although not a popular success, it won the National Book Award. Gaddis won a second National Book Award in 1994 for his book, A Frolic of His Own. Gaddis died at home in East Hampton, New York, of prostate cancer on December 16, 1998.