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There have been many warm tributes to the American novelist Cormac McCarthy who has died in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the age of 89. Stephen King said: ‘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.’
The British nature writer Robert McFarlane described him as “a giant of a writer, who wrote with a pen of iron, torqued language into new forms & worked the rhythms of prose into wire-flashes of lightning & great rolls of thunder.”.
Penguin Random House CEO Nihar Malaviya said in a statement. “For 60 years, he demonstrated an unwavering dedication to his craft, and to exploring the infinite possibilities and power of the written word. Millions of readers around the world embraced his characters, his mythic themes, and the intimate emotional truths he laid bare on every page, in brilliant novels that will remain both timely and timeless, for generations to come.”
McCarthy wrote many novels including All the Pretty Horses, Blood Meridian, No Country for Old Men and The Road. The last two books were also made into successful films.
He was famous for hardly ever giving interviews and for a spare prose style in which he eschewed the use of speech marks. He received many prizes including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Often compared to William Faulkner, he wrote in a visionary style that was almost biblical in its intensity. The US literary critic Harold Bloom considered Blood Meridian to be one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. The Irish novelist John Banville said of that novel: “I vividly remember getting hold, though I don’t remember how, of Blood Meridian when it first came out, and being bowled over by it. It was, of course, utterly unlike anything anyone else was writing at the time, harking back as it did all the way from Melville to Homer and the Bible.”
His long-time publishers Knopf in the US and Picador in the UK will now be checking stock levels and putting through reprints where necessary.