Thomas Berger, Little Big Man author, dies aged 89

Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man

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Dustin Hoffman starred in the big screen version of Thomas Berger's novel Little Big Man

US author Thomas Berger, whose novel Little Big Man reimagined the American West, has died at the age of 89.

His book, turned into a 1970 Hollywood movie starring Dustin Hoffman, was published in 1964 and proved to be his biggest commercial success.

A writer of 20 novels, Berger's The Feud, about a warring Mid-west community, was recommended for the Pulitzer Prize for literature.

The novelist died in New York state, 13 days short of his 90th birthday.

His literary agent Christina Concepcion said he had been in failing health for a considerable period.

Berger, whose work also ranged a number of literary genres from detective fiction to humour, saw two other books turned into films.

His 1980 bestseller Neighbours was adapted the following year and starred John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd.

Meeting Evil (2012) was brought to the screen 20 years after Berger wrote the novel, and featured Samuel L Jackson and Luke Wilson. It recounts the tale of a family man who is sucked into a nightmare by a stranger.

Berger was born in Cincinnati and served in the US army from 1943-46, with some of his experiences in Europe being ploughed into his debut novel Crazy in Berlin, which was published in 1958.

His most popularly acclaimed work, Little Big Man, is told through the eyes of its 111-year-old protagonist Jack Crabb, who claims to have been abducted by Native Americans and later fights with the Cheyenne in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Hoffman's performance in the movie version landed him a Bafta award for best actor.

Berger shrugged off claims he was a comic novelist, saying: "[I] have never thought of my work as being funny except incidentally. I write as I do because that's the way I instinctively look at things."

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