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Billy Bathgate is a 1989 novel by author E. L. Doctorow that won the 1989 National Book Critics Circle award for fiction for 1990 and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and was the runner up for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize . 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. The book explores the question of self determination versus fate, attempts to explore and establish the theory postulating the futility of sex without love, moral relativism, and the romanticization of the Mafia in American pop culture.

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

The title character is a poor and fatherless teenager growing up in The Bronxmarker. 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 Springsmarker 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, Attorney General Thomas Dewey brings up more charges and the gang goes into hiding. This time they are in Union City, New Jersey. While Billy is visiting the gang to give them updates on Mr 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. The Spring after Schultz's death, A man in a uniform drops off a basket with a baby inside. Come to find out, it was Billy's son that he had with Drew.

See also


  1. 1990 Pulitzer Prize Nominated Finalists (Runners Up) Retrieved November 19th, 2006.

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