Mailer's son, Stephen, was at his side at Mount Sinai Hospital, The Provincetown (Mass.) Banner reported. The post-World War II literary icon had been in poor health since September, when he was hospitalized for asthma and later had lung surgery, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Mailer's 1948 debut "The Naked and the Dead," inspired by his WWII days in the Pacific, is still considered his greatest novel. He authored more than 40 novels and nonfiction books -- tackling epic concerns like war, Jesus and sex -- and won Pulitzers for "The Armies of the Night" (1969) and "The Executioner's Song" (1979). His latest, "On God: an Uncommon Conversation," was published Oct. 16.
Mailer also co-founded the Village Voice and helped forge a new brand of political journalism, with the writer as part of the story, while working for Esquire, which allowed him, as critic Alfred Kazin said, to play the "gladiator in the center of the ring," the Times said.
Mailer's contentious nature was mythic. He stabbed one of his wives, was known to resolve issues with fists, and was pilloried by feminists as a misogynist, the Times said
Mailer is survived by his sixth wife, Norris Church Mailer, nine children and 10 grandchildren. A private funeral is planned.