William T. Vollmann is the author of The Atlas (winner of the 1997 PEN Center West Award), Seven Dreams: A Book of North American Landscapes, and Europe Central. His nonfiction includes Rising Up and Rising Down which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2003.
Louis-Ferdinand Celine was born Louis-Ferdinand Destouches in Courbevoie, France on May 27, 1894. He received his medical degree in 1924 and traveled extensively on medical missions for the League of Nations. In 1928, he opened a practice in a suburb of Paris and wrote in his spare time. His first novel, Journey to the End of Night, was published in 1932. His other works include Death on the Installment Plan, Castle to Castle, North, and Rigadoon. A violent anti-Semite, he wrote three pamphlets on the subject: Trifles for a Massacre, School for Corpses, and The Fine Mess. During World War II, he was considered a collaborationist during the German occupation of France. Fearing that he would be charged with the crime, he fled during the Allied liberation of France to Denmark via Germany. In Denmark he was imprisoned for more than a year after French officials charged him with collaboration and demanded his extradition. He returned to France in 1951 after he was granted amnesty by a military tribunal in Paris. He resumed the practice of medicine and continued to write. He died on July 1, 1961.