BORN: July 20, 1933, Providence, Rhode Island
IDENTIFICATION: Late-twentieth-century novelist of the historic American South and West, known for his dark, apocalyptic narratives and soaring prose style.
Cormac McCarthy was first known for his nightmarish, fablelike novels set in the remote Appalachian wilderness of the American South. His unsettling books were praised by reviewers and critics but reached a relatively small audience. He earned a reputation as a [writer's writer] with his daring and distinctive style, which was sometimes compared with that of William Faulkner. A turning point in McCarthy's career came in 1985 with Blood Meridian: Or, The Evening Redness in the West, his first novel set in the historic American West. This violent book received little initial attention from reviewers but was later ranked with his best work. He gained national attention and phenomenal success with his next Western effort, All the Pretty Horses (1992). The book was a publishing sensation, and with the later volumes of his Border Trilogy, it secured both his popularity and his reputation as one of the major writers of his time.