[fast, fahst]
Fast, Howard, 1914-2003, American author, b. New York City. A prolific writer, he is best known for historical novels that mainly concern rebellion against various forms of tyranny. They include Citizen Tom Payne (1943), Freedom Road (1944), My Glorious Brothers (1948), Spartacus (1951), and April Morning (1961). Among his later novels is a lengthy multivolume, multigenerational family saga set in San Francisco: The Immigrants (1977), Second Generation (1978), The Establishment (1979), The Legacy (1981), The Immigrant's Daughter (1985), and An Independent Woman (1997). His last works of fiction include the novels Redemption (1999) and Greenwich (2000). From 1943 to 1956, Fast was a member of the American Communist party. He served a prison term (1950) for refusing to cooperate with the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and his books were purged from American school libraries; in 1953 he was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize. The Naked God (1957) is an account of Fast's political experiences, and the memoir Being Red (1990) further explores the issues involved. He also wrote essays, science fiction, short stories, biographies, screenplays, poetry, and mysteries (many under the name E. V. Cunningham).

See A. Macdonald, Howard Fast: A Critical Companion (1996).

Abstaining from food, usually for religious or ethical reasons. In ancient religions it was used to prepare worshipers or priests to approach deities, to pursue a vision, to demonstrate penance for sins, or to assuage an angered deity. All the major world religions include fasting among their practices. Judaism has several fast days, notably Yom Kippur. For Christians Lent is set aside as a 40-day period of penitence before Easter, including the traditional fast days of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In Islam the month of Ramadan is observed as a period of total abstention from food from dawn to dusk. Fasting to make a political protest is often referred to as a hunger strike; hunger strikes have been employed by, among others, 19th-century female suffragists, Mohandas K. Gandhi, and late-20th-century Irish nationalists. Moderate fasting is also sometimes practiced for its claimed health benefits.

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