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Blakeview: A Confederacy of Dunces


Thirty-five years ago this week, Ignatius J. Reilly might say the goddess Fortuna's wheel spun in the right direction for John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. On April 13, 1981, the New Orleans novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Toole's mother, Thelma, told The Times-Picayune she was filled with "a transcendent feeling of literary glory" for her son's prize, but was "heartbroken he isn't here." The author committed suicide 12 years earlier, and his mother worked tirelessly in the decade after his death to have his book published. She famously cornered writer Walker Percy at Loyola University, where Percy was teaching a creative writing course. After reading the manuscript and realizing its potential, Percy convinced LSU Press to release the book in 1980. A year later it became the first novel by a university press to capture the Pulitzer Prize. It remains beloved for its authentic dialects and eccentric but fantastically realistic cast of Crescent City characters.

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