1962 -- The Moviegoer

Mr. Percy, with compassion and without sentimentality or the mannerisms of the clinic, examines the delusions and hallucinations and the daydreams and the dreads that afflict those who abstain from the customary ways of making do.

—from the NBA judges’ citation

In his acceptance speech, Walker picked up on the judges’ reference to the clinic, saying that his novel was more than a pathology report, and not hopeless about modern man’s chances of surviving his crisis over the loss of identity and meaning:

Yet the patient is not mortally ill. …In short, the book attempts a modest restatement of the Judeo-Christian notion that man is more than an organism in an environment, more than an integrated personality, more even than a mature and creative individual, as the phrase goes. He is a wayfarer and a pilgrim.

In a letter written several months later to the novelist and critic Caroline Gordon, a friend and also a Catholic writer, Percy complained that The Moviegoer had been “almost universally misunderstood,” and most misunderstood by those who seemed to most admire it: “It was received as a novel of ‘despair’—not a novel about despair but as a novel ending in despair.” Another letter from the same time reiterates that the book was “about despair but with hope,” and wonders if “I didn’t get the prize for the wrong reasons.”

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.