Vance Bourjaily (born September 17, 1922) is an American writer, novelist, playwright, journalist, and essayist.
Bourjaily was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Monte Ferris and Barbara Bourjaily. Bourjaily moved several times during his youth. His childhood was spent in Connecticut, Virginia, and New York. Bourjaily graduated from Handley High School in Winchester, Virginia in 1939. After graduating, Bourjaily enrolled in Bowdoin College. With the coming of World War II, Bourjaily became a volunteer ambulance driver from 1942 to 1944. He then served two years in the army from 1944 to 1946. Bourjaily's time in the army was a central theme to many of his later writings.
Bourjaily married Bettina Yensen in 1946. The couple had three children. Bourjaily graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in 1947. While at Bowdoin, he became a brother of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Theta chapter).
Bourjaily began his work with his first novel entitled The End of My Life. The book was heavily influenced by Bourjaily's wartime experiences. Critics said that the novel borrowed heavily from the style and tone of Ernest Hemingway. However, the novel was met with praise and was hailed by critic John Aldridge as a war novel on the level of Hemingway's Farewell to Arms.
Bourjaily's second novel, The Hound of Earth, paints a picture of Cold War America through the eyes of a scientist who helped develop the atomic bomb. His third novel, The Violated, dealt with the themes of violence and alienation. This book was also met with critical praise.
Bourjaily spent much of his career in academia. From 1957 to 1980, he worked as a creative writing instructor and a professor at the University of Iowa. Bourjaily also worked at several other academic institutions such as Oregon State University, the University of Arizona, and Louisiana State University.