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On 6 May The Naked and the Dead (48.2) is published. It tops the New York Times best seller list for 11 straight weeks during the spring and summer, and remains on the list for a total of 61 weeks, including 19 in the top position and 43 in the top five. The novel is nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the Gutenberg Award, and the Associated Press names Mailer "Man of the Year" in literature.

Mailer returns from Europe on 20 July to meet with Lillian Hellman, who was interested in turning Naked into a play, and to campaign for Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry Wallace, making 20 speeches in New York and California. After the election, Mailer and Bea move to a rented house in Jamaica, VT where they live from 7 January to 7 May.