Robert Stone (born August 21, 1937) is an American novelist. His work is characterized by psychological complexity, political concerns, and dark humor. He won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1975 for his novel Dog Soldiers and was once a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. The famous literary critic Harold Bloom considers him one of the best living writers in America.
He has also received Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, the five-year Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award.
Robert Stone was born in Brooklyn, New York. Until the age of six he was raised by his mother, who suffered from schizophrenia; after she was institutionalized, he spent several years in a Catholic orphanage. In his short story "Absence of Mercy", which he has called autobiographical, the protagonist Mackay is placed at age five in an orphanage described as having had "the social dynamic of a coral reef".
Stone dropped out of high school in 1954 and joined the Navy for four years, where he worked as a journalist. In the early 1960s, he briefly attended New York University; worked as a copyboy at the New York Daily News; married and moved to New Orleans; and attended the Wallace Stegner workshop at Stanford University, where he began writing a novel. Although he met the influential Beat Generation writer Ken Kesey and other Merry Pranksters, he was not a passenger on the famous 1964 bus trip to New York, contrary to some media reports. Living in New York at the time, he met the bus on its arrival and accompanied Kesey to an "after-bus party" whose attendees included a dyspeptic Jack Kerouac.
Stone has taught in the creative writing program at Yale University. For the 2010-2011 school year, he has been the Endowed Chair in the English Department at Texas State University-San Marcos.