William Thomas Gaddis, Jr. (December 29, 1922 – December 16, 1998) was an American novelist. The first and longest of his five novels, The Recognitions, was named one of TIME magazine's 100 best novels from 1923 to 2005 and two others won the annual U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. A collection of his essays was published posthumously as The Rush for Second Place (2002). The Letters of William Gaddis was published by Dalkey Archive Press in February 2013.
Gaddis is one of the first and most important American postmodern writers. Because of their complexity and inventiveness in structure and style, his novels are often challenging to read; for example, his National Book Award winners J R and A Frolic of His Own are written almost entirely in unattributed dialogue and without much description, leaving the reader with only different characters' verbal tics, stock phrases and obsessions to identify who is speaking. Some readers find this a source of difficulty; others, finding his ability to make distinctive characterizations using only dialogue a virtuoso stylistic feat, find it a pleasure unique to his work. His books are also known for their extensive use of literary and cultural allusions, most of which are annotated in The Gaddis Annotations.