Boris Vian was a French polymath: writer, poet, musician, singer, translator, critic, actor, inventor and engineer. He is best remembered today for his novels. Those published under the pseudonym Vernon Sullivan were bizarre parodies of criminal fiction, highly controversial at the time of their release. Vian's other fiction, published under his real name, featured a highly individual writing style with numerous made-up words, subtle wordplay and surrealistic plots. L'Écume des jours is the best known of these works, and one of the few translated into English.
Vian was also an important influence on the French jazz scene. He served as liaison for Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis in Paris, wrote for several French jazz-reviews and published numerous articles dealing with jazz both in the United States and in France. His own music and songs enjoyed popularity during his lifetime, particularly the anti-war song "Le Déserteur".