Cormac McCarthy, Legendary Author of ‘No Country for Old Men’ and ‘The Road,’ Dies at 89

The novelist won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for “The Road” and the adaptation of “No Country” won the Oscars’ Best Picture

Cormac McCarthy
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Cormac McCarthy, considered to be one of the greatest authors of the past half-century thanks to classic novels like “Blood Meridian” and “The Road,” has died at his home in Santa Fe at the age of 89, his publisher Knopf announced.

Born in Rhode Island and raised in Tennessee, McCarthy used his upbringing in the American South as the primary influence for his literary works, which were often violent, bleak and filled with morally ambiguous characters.

While he made his literary debut in 1965 with “The Orchard Keeper,” he truly broke through in 1985 with the anti-Western “Blood Meridian,” which follows an unnamed teenager who travels with a sadistic gang of bandits that massacre Native Americans before meeting their own grisly fate.

20 years later, McCarthy released the neo-Western “No Country for Old Men,” which was adapted in 2007 by Joel and Ethan Coen into a Best Picture Oscar-winning film. The film follows the amoral, sociopathic killer Anton Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem, as he chases a hunter in Texas (Josh Brolin) who has stumbled upon $2 million in drug cartel money. On Chigurh’s tail is Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a disenchanted sheriff planning to retire because of the overwhelming violence he sees in his job.

Other McCarthy films that made the jump from page to screen include the 1992 National Book Award winner “All the Pretty Horses,” which was adapted by Billy Bob Thornton in 2000 into a film starring Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz. McCarthy also took a step into screenwriting with “The Counselor,” a 2013 film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Fassbender as a lawyer who dips his toes in the Mexican drug trade, only to suffer violent consequences.

But McCarthy’s most famous and acclaimed novel is the 2006 book “The Road,” a post-apocalyptic novel about an unnamed father and son struggling to survive in a world ravaged by ecological collapse. The book earned praise from Oprah Winfrey and led to him giving her his first televised interview, where he said he got the idea for the book while traveling through Texas with his son.

“There was nothing moving, but I could hear the trains going through, and that very lonesome sound,” McCarthy said. “I just had this image of what this town might look like in 50 or 100 years. I just had this image of these fires up on the hill and everything being laid waste, and I thought a lot about my little boy.”

“The Road” won McCarthy the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was adopted in 2009 into a film starring Viggo Mortensen as the unnamed father and future Oscar nominee Kodi Smit-McPhee, then 11 years old, playing his son.

“The Road” ended up being the last novel McCarthy would publish until just this past November, when he surprised the literary world with a pair of novels: “The Passenger” and a companion prequel, “Stella Maris,” which follow the children of one of the scientists that developed the atomic bomb and was wracked with guilt for the rest of his life.

McCarthy is survived by his two sons, Cullen and John Francis.