With a career spanning 50 years, Kurt Vonnegut is one of the most prolific and popular American writers of the 20th century. Though his works have often met with mixed reviews, and have been difficult to categorize, his status of cultural icon and one of the most important contemporary novelists is well established. This critical companion, perfect for students, skillfully guides readers through seven of Vonnegut's most important novels including Player Piano (1952), Mother Night (1961), Cat's Cradle (1963), and Slaughterhouse Five (1969). A full chapter is devoted to each work, with clear analysis of plot, character development, thematic concerns, symbolism, and a close critical reading. A chapter on the life of Kurt Vonnegut gives an up-to-date biography, with interesting details relating the facts of his life to his writings. The Literary Contexts section, devoted to examining issues of genre, influences, and themes in Vonnegut's writing, adds to a fuller understanding of the man and his literary works.