Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “بیلی باتگیت” as Want to Read:
بیلی باتگیت
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

بیلی باتگیت

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  6,604 ratings  ·  426 reviews
Billy Bathgate
Hardcover, 396 pages
Published 1999 by انتشارات طرح نو (first published February 4th 1989)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about بیلی باتگیت, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Andrew Miller There are violent scenes but most of them are far from gratuitous. Billy is never directly involved in the violence of the gang, only recounting what …moreThere are violent scenes but most of them are far from gratuitous. Billy is never directly involved in the violence of the gang, only recounting what he witnesses or is told from a distance. There are a few graphic moments but nothing extreme by the standards of gangster stories. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,604 ratings  ·  426 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of بیلی باتگیت
Bill Kerwin
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picaresque

This picaresque novel about Bronx-born “Billy Bathgate” Behan, a street urchin and errand-boy for the Dutch Schulz mob, memorably evokes the tough urban streets of the early '30's, but its principal achievement is the voice of the first person narrator, “Billy Bathgate” himself.

Like his literary ancestor Huckleberry Finn, Billy speaks naturally, with colloquial snap and humor. He describes his streets and adventures in the way that an intelligent boy of his age would see them, and he soon convin
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Only one other writer in my mind can spin out such golden tresses, long sumptuous sentences that runonandon & imbue an actual soul, a literary ghost that moves on and on & that's Latin America's Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Billy Bathgate is one. Outstanding. Fu***ng. Read. E. L. Doctorow gives us another story for us & lots of future readers to savor. He is clearly in the good company of E. Leonard & M. Puzo. This is virtuoso storytelling (like a movie, as cinematic, but better), and even the myriad
Jack Tripper

(Updated 1/8/17)

After having recently binge-watched the last couple seasons of Boardwalk Empire, I was in the mood for some more 1920s/30s gangster action, and Billy Bathgate scratched that itch nicely. It's more of a coming-of-age story as opposed to straight-up mobster violence and crime, though there's plenty of that as well. Dutch Schultz, a real-life bootlegger and numbers runner who controls the entire Bronx, is pretty much a maniac, and I'm disappointed that he was barely mentioned in Boa
Ahmad Sharabiani
189. Billy Bathgate, E.L. Doctorow
Billy Bathgate is a 1989 novel by author E. L. Doctorow that won the 1989 National Book Critics Circle award for fiction for 1990, the 1990 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 1990 William Dean Howells Medal, and was the runner-up for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize and the 1989 National Book Award. 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. A 1991 f
The simple truth is no one writes Historical Fiction like Doctorow does. Like Ragtime, like Book of Daniel, like Homer & Langley, Billy Bathgate is an awesome read that not only tells an individual story, but captures an era so well you are helpless but to be drawn wholly into the romanticism of that era. This is a coming-of-age story, but unlike most stories like that, Billy Bathgate is presented to us in one of the most moving narrative voices ever to grace that niche. Billy, for all his intui ...more
Jo Stafford
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great writing seduces me like nothing else, and this is truly great writing. While reading this novel, nothing else existed for me. Doctorow has created an unforgettable character in Billy, a 15-year-old boy from the Bronx tenements who goes to work for one of the most notorious gangsters of the 1930s, Dutch Schultz. This is a vivid portrait of the gangster milieu with its numbers-running rackets and its deadly violence. Its appeal to a poor kid with limited options and a crazy mother is not har ...more
robin friedman
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Doctorow's Billy Bathgate

Much of E.L Doctorow's finest writing celebrates the vibrancy, brashness, and diversity of New York City. Doctorow's novels also show a fascination with secular Jews -- with individuals who abandon traditional Jewish religious practice and adopt various other types of life. Thus, "The Book of Daniel" explores New York City in the 1940s in a historical novel based upon the Rosenbergs. Doctorow's remarkable novel, "City of God," explores contemporary New York City in the c
This is the story of Billy Behan, soon to call himself Billy Bathgate, in 1930's New York City. He gains the attention of Dutch Schultz, a real mobster who runs an illegal gambling establishment.

Schultz has been accused of tax evasion. In a plea bargain, he is allowed to pick the site of his trial. He selects Onondaga, NY. Billy goes there with his entourage to await the trial.

Despite being acquitted, he goes into hiding to plan the assassination of Thomas Dewey who wants to bring him up on stat
Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doctorow is such a master wordsmith. His vocabulary is impressive, his turn of phrase striking, the cadence in his character’s voices is captivating. This is Billy’s story of his attempt to escape his impoverished tenement neighborhood in the 1930s by affiliation with a well-known gang of mobsters. This runs from funny to morbid, from tender to cruel with amazing agility. I enjoyed this book. My only problem was that Billy’s narrative voice was too sophisticated for a minimally educated 15 year ...more
Dec 04, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My first misfire since I came home in November.

Huge run on sentences, extensive description, and I'm outta here.

There are only two humans on earth who should be able to bend the rules of the English language to tell their story: Cormac McCarthy and James Ellroy. I realize Doctorow came well before these authors, so I can understand why some people may have a soft spot for him. Not me.

This same plotline of boy meets mafia was done much better in Nicholas Pileggi's Wiseguy, which later became the
Robert Sheard
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Doctorow novel, and I look forward to reading more. Narrated later in life, the story is about Billy (aged 15) and how he becomes involved with Dutch Schultz, a big-time New York gangster in the 30s, but a gangster on a downhill decline.

I get a similar feeling reading this that I get from Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Both narrators are not really the main characters of the story, both "come of age" in watching the events unfold, and neither abandons the larger-than-life crook
Mark Joyce
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolute belter of a coming of age story slash historical fiction. As others have noted there is a great deal of sex and violence, much of it very graphic. However, some of the key moments in the central character’s development are actually based on events that take place in his peripheral vision, the significance of which is never fully articulated. An interesting and subtle book that asks a bit of the reader.
This is not a book I would have chosen to read on my own, even though I enjoy historical fiction and coming of age stories. I'm just not that interested in gangsters or reading about what I imagined would be a lot of graphic violence. But since my book club wanted to read this book to honor the author who passed away earlier this year, I joined in. And to my amazement, I became fascinated with gangster life and the hierarchy within it. And I had no problem with the violence which was even less p ...more
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: east-coast-mob
Too much words, most don't fit

If you've seen the movie, you can save time for a better book. Billy Bathgate is one of the rare cases in which the movie is far superior over the book. Far too much reflection in words a fifteen year old street guy would never use, even fifty years later.
Doctorows storytelling is awkward, he takes a lot of words and oftly misses the point, his style is anything but visual and for that reason a 118-Minutes Movie tells the complete story, there are no hidden secrets
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doctorow died in July 2015, so I checked my records to see what books of his I had read and was surprised to find the only book I had read was “Ragtime”. It is a funny feeling; I could have sworn I had read “Billy Bathgate”. Now I have another reading project, which is to read all of Doctorow’s books.

“Billy Bathgate” is Doctorow’s eighth novel (1989). The story won the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction in 1990 and the National Book Critics Award in 1989.

The book takes place in the 1930s New York. B
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This was fun! There were a couple of instances of somewhat graphic violence - this was Dutch Schultz's gang - but not in a squeamish way and so much that I was fearful. There was also a somewhat graphic sex scene. It was probably a lot more graphic when first published in 1989, but sex in books has become more graphic of late, and I think this might be a bit mild.

Doctorow's prose is interesting. He is a bit free with his sentence structure and there were a couple of times I went back to reread,
Donna Davis
I have to admit, E.L. Doctorow is one of those writers whose work is a sure fire hit for me. I love historical fiction, and I admire great word-smithery. Doctorow is skilled with both.

This one is a period piece, a look at a hard time and the ugly risks that some folks took from desperation and perhaps a misplaced idea of what greatness might look like. To be sure, the government wasn't exactly setting a good example; those who searched for less-than-conventional means were, in my view, right to
Oct 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doctorow, you probably are aware, is best known for a kind of historical fiction concentrating on different episodes in 20th century American history (everyone from Stanford White and Emma Goldman to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg has their story revisited). He adds a few fictional characters (typically the narrator), some propulsive but not modernist prose, and the story tells itself!
This time it is Dutch Schultz, Lucky Luciano and the other gangsters of the Prohibition (and just post) era. The nar
Feb 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
I do enjoy reading Doctorow but I can't find a word, a relevant sentence, something which reveals my high respect to him and his works / novels.
بیل باتگیت با ترجمه ی زیبای نجف دریابندری به فارسی منتشر شده است.
Asghar Abbas
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Excellent, wordy but excellent.
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doctorow's book is a challenging read. First, the story is told from the point of view of Billy, a 15-year-old boy. Punctuation and wording are appropriate to the speaker. Second, the story is not told in chronological order, and I had some trouble figuring out the chronology of the events. These aspects of the text didn't discourage me from reading the book, but if you're looking for a fast and easy read, this book is not for you.

Billy Behan is a 15-year-old boy who gets involved with Dutch Sch
John Perreault
Jun 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 1920s/1930s gang world is notorious for its colorful characters. Bootlegging, racketeering, and a sense of class created a veneer over the brutality of power and death that often followed these. In this novel, Doctorow looks at this life through the eyes of the tiitle character, a 15 year old who not only witnesses murders of those who turn on the main gang leader (Dutch Schultz), but also becomes almost a protege of this leader. He survives the mayhem. The ending is a bit quick and Billy Ba ...more
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was like one of those members of the audience in a grand opera house, riveted on the presence of a passionate narrator, carried away by each and every line that went deeper into my heart until it displayed vivid imagination. I would disregard the background and backup actors illustrating the settings, plots, and dialogues. Rather, the deep, emotional, narrative, and lyrical execution of the narrator was enough to hold me in fascination. When the show ended, I would still sit into my armchair m ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unintentionally, this is the second novel about 1920s New York gangs I have read in recent months. Both were also coming of age stories. Andrew Gross's Button Man was more fun and it was easier to get behind the protagonist because he was fighting against the mob. Billy Bathgate is more honest, with a more believable point of view.

Billy is a fatherless boy in a rough Bronx neighborhood who becomes a kind of pet to the Dutch Schultz gang after he gets Schultz's attention one day with some flashy
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seemingly realistic portrayal of 1930s New York City gangsters and life on the streets, when HBO's "The Sopranos" characters were only a gleam in Uncle Junior's eye. ...more
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't exactly what I expected it to be but I'm so glad it was a winner within it's own right. I really enjoyed it. E.L. Doctorow is a new author to me whom I discovered on a whim while searching for new books here on Goodreads. From the synopsis I assumed it might be more thriller/action packed and even when it wasn't so much so, it still was a very good read for what it did bring to the table.

This is the story of a young man self christened Billy Bathgate, local neighborhood kid slash as
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I can’t really add much to what has already been said about this rather excellent historical fiction of figures from the 30’s NYC underworld, but some parts which particularly stood out warrant mentioning:

Some of the best writing is in describing the blossoming covert relationship between Billy and Drew , (Boss ‘Dutch’ Schultz’s ‘moll’) the added excitement of real danger and tragedy, the metaphoric vein throughout of the young juggler struggling to keep all of the morbidly risky relationsh
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book, a fifteen year old kid admires mob life. One day, while this kid is juggling for his friends, the great mobster Dutch Schultz rolls up in a big Packard, steps out and, upon seeing Billy juggling five objects, smiles and calls young Billy over. He pulls out a wad of bills, peels one off and hands it to the boy.

It is this moment that defines young Billy. After this encounter, Billy ingratiates himself with Dutch Schultz and works to become, gradually, his protege, doing menial jobs a
Christopher Saunders
Historical novel about a teenager growing up in the 1930s Bronx who falls in with notorious gangster Dutch Schultz and becomes a gofer, confidante and right-hand man as Federal investigators and rival criminals close in. Typical of Doctorow, it’s a sprawling, somewhat unfocused yet compulsively engaging work of historical fiction, filled with colorful vignettes and larger-than-life characters. The novel flits between Billy’s gangland exploits, his picturesque romance with Schultz’s moll Drew, hi ...more
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barbara by: recommended by my brother
This is a remarkable book told from the viewpoint of "a capable boy" from the tenement streets of the East Bronx who is taken in by the crimeland figure Dutch Shultz. It is E.L. Doctorow at the near-peak of his powers creating a fascinating story by winding history and fiction together. My only criticism was that I didn't quite believe the romance of a sub-plot which I won't discuss here as it would create a spoiler. But, when Doctorow is describing the sites and sounds of the streets or creatin ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Reading 1001: Billy Bathgate, by E.L. Doctorow 2 7 Sep 30, 2020 07:53PM  
Literary Award Wi...: Billy Bathgate (Chs 1 to 10) 15 10 Aug 26, 2016 07:23AM  
Literary Award Wi...: Billy Bathgate (Chs 11 to 20) 6 8 Aug 25, 2016 11:54AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Ragtime
  • The Neon Bible
  • Sutton
  • Black Water
  • How to Fly in Ten Thousand Easy Lessons
  • آخرین انار دنیا
  • استخوان خوک و دست‌های جذامی
  • عصیان
  • The Barracks Thief
  • John Henry Days
  • The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
  • An Unfinished Season
  • The Lay of the Land
  • The Book of Guys
  • A Fable
  • Jack Maggs
  • Bread and Wine
  • Mephisto
See similar books…
E. L. Doctorow's works of fiction include Homer & Langley, The March, Billy Bathgate, Ragtime, The Book of Daniel, City of God, Welcome to Hard Times, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, The Waterworks, and All the Time in the World. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle Awards, two PEN Faulkner Awards, The Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, and the presidentially ...more

Articles featuring this book

Author, journalist, public intellectual, and (in recent years) comic book writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates is an Extremely Busy Person by any metric, and...
100 likes · 31 comments
“هر شهری سرانجام به پایان می‌رسد و جاده‌ای تهی آغاز می‌شود که پیمودن آن ایمان می‌طلبد” 15 likes
“The story was clearly over, as in juggling when the ball you throw up finds the moment to come down, hesitates as if it might not, and then drops at the same speed of that celestial light. And life is no longer good but just what you happen to be holding.” 7 likes
More quotes…