Thomas Pynchon
Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. (born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist
American literature
American literature is the written or literary work produced in the area of the United States and its preceding colonies. For more specific discussions of poetry and theater, see Poetry of the United States and Theater in the United States. During its early history, America was a series of British...

. For his most praised novel, Gravity's Rainbow
Gravity's Rainbow
Gravity's Rainbow is a postmodern novel written by Thomas Pynchon and first published on February 28, 1973.The narrative is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military, and, in particular, the quest...

, Pynchon received the National Book Award
National Book Award
The National Book Awards are a set of American literary awards. Started in 1950, the Awards are presented annually to American authors for literature published in the current year. In 1989 the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization which now oversees and manages the National Book...

, and is regularly cited as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

. Pynchon is a MacArthur Fellow noted for his dense and complex novels, and both his fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

 and non-fiction writings encompass a vast array of subject matter, styles
Literary genre
A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by literary technique, tone, content, or even length. Genre should not be confused with age category, by which literature may be classified as either adult, young-adult, or children's. They also must not be confused...

 and themes
Theme (literature)
A theme is a broad, message, or moral of a story. The message may be about life, society, or human nature. Themes often explore timeless and universal ideas and are almost always implied rather than stated explicitly. Along with plot, character,...

, including (but not limited to) the fields of history
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, and mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...


Hailing from Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

, Pynchon served two years in the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 and earned an English
English studies
English studies is an academic discipline that includes the study of literatures written in the English language , English linguistics English studies is an academic discipline that includes the study of literatures written in the English language (including literatures from the U.K., U.S.,...

 degree from Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...


Why should things be easy to understand?

Pynchon's response to Jules Siegel|Jules Siegel about the complexity of V, as quoted in "Who Is Thomas Pynchon... And Why Did He Take Off With My Wife?", Playboy (March 1977)

My belief is that "recluse" is a code word generated by journalists... meaning, "doesn't like to talk to reporters."

Phone call to CNN (5 June 1997)

I did not write those letters. This has been a hoax that I've had nothing to do with. I'm sorry it's gone on as long as it has.

On the rumors that he had written a series of letters to a newspaper using the name Wanda Tinasky|Wanda Tinasky, in a phone call to CNN (5 June 1997)

Christmas Eve, 1955, Benny Profane, wearing black levis, suede jacket, sneaker and big cowboy hat, happened to pass through Norfolk, Virginia.

First lines