MacArthur Fellows Program

Thomas Pynchon

Novelist | Class of 1988

51 at time of award
Published August 1, 1988

About Thomas' Work

Thomas Pynchon is a novelist noted for his power of language and theme, and for his mastery of history, the sciences, politics, and art.

Regarded as one of the most original and daring of contemporary American writers, Pynchon is the author of five novels: V. (1963), The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), Vineland (1990), and Mason & Dixon (1997).  His work is considered structurally complex; containing plots that resist summarization, narrators with multiple voices, and a vast range of references.  Broadly, his novels depict human alienation in the chaos of modern society, with the recurring themes of paranoia, conspiracy, synchronicity and entropy. 


Pynchon is also the author of Slow Learner (1984), a collection of short stories, and of a book of essays entitled Deadly Sins (1993).  His stories have also appeared in numerous periodicals including the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, the Saturday Evening Post, the Kenyon Review, and Esquire.  He served two years in the U.S. Navy (1955-1957) and worked for Boeing Aircraft Company as a technical writer (1960-1962), prior to devoting himself to writing full time. 

Pynchon received a B.A. (1959) from Cornell University.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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