Cormac McCarthy, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of ‘The Road,’ dead at 89

Cormac McCarthy, the celebrated American author known for such works as “The Road,” “No Country For Old Men,” and “All the Pretty Horses,” has died at the age of 89. 

His publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, said McCarthy died of natural causes in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

Despite being relatively unknown to the public until he turned 60, McCarthy would become one of the country’s most honored and successful writers. 

Raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, McCarthy was often compared to William Faulkner for his Old Testament style and rural settings. His themes were bleak and violent, with stories set in stark and forbidding landscapes.


He broke through commercially in 1992, with “All the Pretty Horses” and over the next 15 years won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer, was a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show, and saw his novel “No Country for Old Men” adapted by the Coen brothers into an Oscar-winning movie.

“The Road,” his stark tale of a father and son who roam a ravaged landscape, brought him his widest audience and highest acclaim. It won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was selected by Winfrey for her book club. 

His first novel, “The Orchard Keeper” — written in Chicago while he was working as an auto mechanic — was published by Random House in 1965. 

Other novels include “Outer Dark,” published in 1968; “Child of God” in 1973; and “Suttree” in 1979. The violent “Blood Meridian,” about a group of bounty hunters along the Texas-Mexico border murdering Indians for their scalps, was published in 1985. 

His “Border Trilogy” books were set in the Southwest along the border with Mexico: “All the Pretty Horses” (1992) — a National Book Award winner that was turned into a feature film; “The Crossing” (1994), and “Cities of the Plain” (1998).


In 2009, Christie’s auction house sold the Olivetti typewriter he used while writing such novels as “The Road” and “No Country for Old Men” for $254,500. 

McCarthy, who bought the Olivetti for $50 in 1958, and used it until 2009, donated it, so the proceeds could be used to benefit the Santa Fe Institute, a nonprofit interdisciplinary scientific research community. He once said he didn’t know any writers and preferred to hang out with scientists.

The Southwestern Writers Collection at Texas State University-San Marcos purchased his archives in 2008, including correspondence, notes, drafts, proofs of 11 novels, a draft of an unfinished novel and materials related to a play and four screenplays.

McCarthy attended the University of Tennessee for a year before joining the Air Force in 1953. He returned to the school from 1957 to 1959 but left before graduating. As an adult, he lived around the Great Smoky Mountains before moving West in the late 1970s, eventually settling in Santa Fe.

His Knoxville boyhood home, long abandoned and overgrown, was destroyed by fire in 2009.



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