Revered author Cormac McCarthy has died aged 89. The American novelist, perhaps best known for his post-apocalyptic novel The Road (2006) for which he won the coveted Pulitzer Prize, passed away of natural causes in his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Tuesday 13 June, his agent has confirmed.
Tributes from celebrated authors have begun to pour in, including words from renowned horror writer Stephen King: “Cormac McCarthy, maybe the greatest American novelist of my time, has passed away at 89. He was full of years and created a fine body of work, but I still mourn his passing.”
Likewise, John Banville, Booker Prize winner and friend of McCarthy, described the No Country for Old Men author as “unique” on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “He stood out – he jutted out from the literary landscape like a monolith.” To many of his contemporaries, McCarthy was the finest author of his generation and, according to Nihar Malaviya, chief executive of Penguin Random House, McCarthy had “changed the course of literature” with his idiosyncratic writing style and macabre content.
Indeed, McCarthy had no qualms in exploring dark themes like that of rape, cannibalism, and necrophilia; in a rare interview with The New York Times in 1992, the novelist commented, “There’s no such thing as life without bloodshed.” This notoriously gritty style was evident from McCarthy’s first novel The Orchard Keeper, published in 1965. It wasn’t until the gruesome Blood Meridian in 1985, however, that McCarthy began to gain critical acclaim and public attention. Often considered his magnum opus, Blood Meridian follows the story of a teenage runaway in the late 1840s as he travels across the Texas-Mexico border, witnessing and participating in the bloody massacre and scalp-hunting of Native Americans.
Words by Sue Nolan