The way E.L. Doctorow told it, the phrase "historical novel" is something of a misnomer when it comes to his writing. "I think really of myself as a national novelist; I am an American novelist writing about my country." Mary Altaffer/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Mary Altaffer/AP

E.L. Doctorow, center, stands with other National Book Critics Circle award winners in March 2006 at a reception following the awards ceremony in New York. Doctorow's "The March" won the prize for fiction that year. Tina Fineberg/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Tina Fineberg/AP

NPR's Eleanor Beardsley saw Doctor Zhivago at age 14 and was instantly smitten with Omar Sharif, shown here in a scene from the film with Julie Christie. MGM/The Kobal Collection hide caption

itoggle caption MGM/The Kobal Collection