Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy dies at 89

Cormac McCarthy, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Road and No Country for Old Men, has died aged 89, according to reports.

His son, John McCarthy, according to a statement from his publisher. confirmed his death said to be by natural causes. 

He was born Charles McCarthy Jr. on July 20, 1933, in Providence, Rhode Island, one of six children in an Irish Catholic family. When McCarthy was a child, his family relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee, where his father worked as a lawyer. 

It was the South where McCarthy drew much of his literary inspiration for his Southern gothic and neo-Western stories, following in the narrative literary tradition of William Faulkner. McCarthy is noted for his style, which employs deceivingly simple, declarative sentences, sparse punctuation, and dialogue free of quotation marks and often missing attribution.

In the early ’50s, McCarthy attended the University of Tennessee, but dropped out to join the Air Force. Following his service, he returned to the university and published two short stories in student literary magazine The Phoenix before dropping out for good.

He published his first novel, The Orchard Keeper, in 1965, which won the William Faulkner Foundation Award for notable first novel. That and his next three books were set in Appalachian Tennessee and heavily stamped by his Southern upbringing.

Perhaps no book better exemplifies McCarthy’s style and craft than his fifth book Blood Meridian, a bloody anti-Western that follows a band of scalp hunters across 1800s Texas. 

McCarthy first achieved popular acclaim in 1992 with All the Pretty Horses, a best-seller and winner of the National Book Award. In 2000, it was adapted into a film starring Matt Damon and Penélope Cruz, directed by Billy Bob Thornton.

Directors Joel and Ethan Coen brought McCarthy even more popular acclaim with their 2007 film adaptation of his novel No Country for Old Men, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin. The film won four Academy Awards, including best picture, and even drew the reclusive McCarthy to the Oscars ceremony. In 2013, McCarthy’s first original feature-length screenplay became the film The Counselor, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz and Cameron Diaz.  

McCarthy is most widely known for his post-apocalyptic 2006 novel The Road, a bleak and haunting fable about a father and young son journeying through a ravaged landscape eradicated of civilisation and most life on Earth. In March 2007, Oprah Winfrey selected the title for her book club; his subsequent televised interview on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was the famously press-shy author’s first. Later that year, McCarthy was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. A film adaptation was released in 2009, starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee.


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