Williwaw (novel)

Williwaw is the debut novel of Gore Vidal, written when he was 19 and first mate of a U.S. Army supply ship stationed in the Aleutian Islands. The story combines war drama, maritime adventure and a murder plot. The book was first published in 1946 in the United States by E.P. Dutton. Williwaw is the term, widely thought to be Native American in origin, for a sudden, violent katabatic wind common to the Aleutian Islands.

Cover of the first edition
AuthorGore Vidal
CountryUnited States
PublisherE. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., New York City
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback and Paperback)
Followed byIn a Yellow Wood 

Plot summary

The story is set on a U.S. ship in the Arctic waters around the Aleutians in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of the local storm season during World War II. The nervousness and tension of the crew and a handful of passengers at the approach of the williwaw is stretched to breaking point when a murder is committed on the ship.


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