American writer Cormac McCarthy is dead

Cormac McCarthy in New York in 2009. Mark Von Holden/Getty Images for Dimension Films/AFP

Cormac McCarthy died Tuesday, June 13 at the age of 89 in his property in Santa Fe (New Mexico), announced his publisher. With this giant of American letters disappears one of the most influential writers of his time, cited as a model by novelists as diverse as Daniel Kehlmann, Junot Diaz, David Vann or Marcus Malte.

Author of a dozen novels, as well as screenplays for films and series, he did not run after notoriety, he who hated media exposure and literary circles more than anything. He preferred to these the company of scientists from the Santa Fe Institute, an independent research center located in New Mexico, near which he had lived since 1999, and of which he was a full member.

Refusing to participate in literary festivals and any signing sessions, reluctant to explain the content of his works, on the grounds that everything there was to understand was already there, he gave rare interviews, including only one, televised, to Oprah Winfrey on the occasion of the release of The road (L’Olivier, 2008): post-apocalyptic novel as much as long metaphysical poem, inspired by his conversations with his young son John, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2007.

Thanks to this program, many Americans discovered this reserved writer, with a soft voice and gray-green eyes, recognizing, ill at ease in front of the popular host, that this story of an odyssey of a father and his son through desolate landscapes, was also, beyond its catastrophic message, a ” love story “. The novel became cult worldwide (48 translations and 4 million copies sold in the United States alone), paving the way for a new dystopian vein in literature, cinema, and even in the world of games. video.

Just as he shunned the public sphere, McCarthy disdained paid activity outside of writing. He systematically refused all proposals for collaboration from universities, thus knowingly depriving himself of relays and subsidies. He therefore knew poverty for years, to the great displeasure of his wives (he had three). He is reported to have lived in filthy shacks and motels, bathing in lakes, doing his laundry in the laundromat, and cutting his own hair.

For a long time, the man who has often been compared to JD Salinger (1919-2010), Thomas Pynchon or even Don Delillo for his legendary discretion, had to rely solely on the recognition of a few fans, whose circle was nevertheless widening by in books, and academics, who devoted many works to him.

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