Walker Percy

The American writer Walker Percy, b. Birmingham, Ala., May 28, 1916, d. New Orleans, May 10, 1990, was a novelist noted for his philosophical seriousness. He studied medicine at Columbia University in New York City and practiced for a year before contracting tuberculosis. Influenced by the existential philosophers that he read during his recuperation, Percy returned to the South and began to write. His first novel, The Moviegoer (1961), about a man deeply alienated from his culture, won the 1962 National Book Award. In Love in the Ruins (1971), Percy dealt allegorically with the redemption of a failed man living through civilization's technological collapse. Lancelot (1977) wryly tackled questions of religious faith, and The Second Coming (1980) dealt with a prosperous Southerner's mental breakdown. Dr. Thomas More, protagonist of Love in the Ruins, reappeared in The Thanatos Syndrome (1987), a thriller novel. Percy also wrote two nonfiction books, The Message in the Bottle (1975), and Lost in the Cosmos (1983).

Bibliography: Allen, W. R., Walker Percy (1986); Broughton, P., ed., The Art of Walker Percy (1979); Coles, Robert, Walker Percy: An American Search (1978); Lawson, L., Following Percy (1988); Lawson, L., and Kramer, V., eds., Conversations with Walker Percy (1985); Sweeney, M. K., Walker Percy and the Postmodern World (1987).