Billy Bathgate

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This article is about the book. For the film, see Billy Bathgate (film).
Billy Bathgate
1st edition
Author E. L. Doctorow
Country United States
Language English
Genre Postmodern Historical novel
Publisher Random House
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 323 pp

Billy Bathgate is a 1989 novel by author E. L. Doctorow that won the 1989 National Book Critics Circle award for fiction for 1990[1] and the 1990 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction,[2] and was the runner up for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize[3] and the 1989 National Book Award.[4] The story is told in the first person by Billy "Bathgate" Behan, a fifteen-year-old boy who first becomes the gofer and then surrogate son of mobster Dutch Schultz.[5]

A 1991 film based on the novel starred Loren Dean as Billy, Dustin Hoffman as Schultz, Steven Hill as Otto Berman, Nicole Kidman as Drew, and Bruce Willis as Bo.

Plot summary[edit]

The title character is a poor and fatherless teenager growing up in The Bronx. Billy and his friends are in awe of the flashy mobsters in the neighborhood. Dutch Schultz and Otto Berman, based on the real-life mobsters, hire Billy as a gofer and become mentors to him. The gangsters take Billy up to their upstate hideaway, where they are awaiting a trial. Schultz becomes a community leader and converts to Catholicism. Billy works his way up but begins to question his actions when he falls in love with Dutch's moll Drew, whom Dutch plans to have killed. Billy is sent to Saratoga Springs with Drew to keep an eye on her. They act as a couple in Saratoga. He realizes that she is to be killed and calls her husband in New York City to come and rescue her.

After Schultz is acquitted, prosecutor Thomas Dewey brings up more charges and the gang goes into hiding in Union City, New Jersey. While Billy is visiting the gang to give them updates on Dewey's routine, unnamed gangsters come in and kill everyone except Billy and the bartender. Billy goes back to Schultz's hotel room and takes all the money from his safe.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "All Past National Book Critics Circle Award Winners and Finalists". National Book Critics Circle. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Past Winners & Finalists". PEN/Faulkner Foundation. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  3. ^ 1990 Pulitzer Prize Nominated Finalists (Runners Up) Retrieved August 10th, 2014.
  4. ^ "National Book Awards - 1989". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "BILLY BATHGATE by E.L. Doctorow (Harper & Row: $5.95)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 

External links[edit]