American author known for his articles and interview-based character pieces in The New Yorker. He also wrote such novels as Joe Gould's Secret and McSorley's Wonderful Saloon.
He moved to New York City in his early twenties and worked for the New York Herald-Tribune as a crime writer.
He became known for appearing in public in a distinctive brown fedora.
The son of Elizabeth Parker Mitchell and Averette Nance, he was born on his grandparents' cotton and tobacco farm in North Carolina.
He and fellow author Thomas Sowell were both born in North Carolina.