Sophie's Choice is a novel by William Styron published in 1979. It concerns a young American Southerner, an aspiring writer, who befriends the Jewish Nathan Landau and his beautiful lover Sophie, a Polish (but non-Jewish) survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. An immediate bestseller and the basis of a successful film, the novel is often considered both Styron's best work and a major novel of the twentieth century. The difficult decision that shapes the character Sophie is sometimes used as an idiom. A "Sophie's Choice" is a tragic choice between two unbearable options.
William Clark Styron, Jr. (June 11, 1925 – November 1, 2006) was an American novelist and essayist who won major literary awards for his work.
For much of his career, Styron was best known for his novels, which included
* Lie Down in Darkness (1951), which he wrote at age 25;
* The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), narrated by Nat Turner, the leader of an 1831 Virginia slave revolt; and
* Sophie's Choice (1979), about Holocaust survivor Sophie "and her two men: Nathan, brilliant and dangerous...and Stingo, the loneliest, horniest would-be writer in New York."
Styron's influence deepened and his readership expanded with the publication of Darkness Visible in 1990. This memoir, originally intended as a magazine article, chronicled the author's descent into depression and his near-fatal night of "despair beyond despair."