Henry Louis Gates Jr., the literary critic and historian, called Mr. McPherson one of the “literary heirs” of Mr. Ellison, who died in 1994. When James Alan McPherson was a dining-car waiter for the Great Northern Railroad in the 1960s, he would ride the trains out of the south to Chattanooga, along the Mason-Dixon line. The cause of death was reportedly complicatio He was the first African-American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and was included among the first group of artists who received a MacArthur Fellowship. James Alan McPherson was an American essayist and short story writer. “As an American, by trying to wear these clothes he would be a synthesis of high and low, black and white, city and country, provincial and universal. Frank D. McConnell. He is survived by their daughter, Rachel McPherson; a son, Benjamin; a sister, Mary McPherson; and a brother, Richard. James Alan McPherson mocks the Horatio Alger aspect of his background via the young writer-narrator of his first published story, "Gold Coast" (an Atlantic Monthly First in 1968), in a passage where Robert dreams that "there would be capsule biographies of my life on dust jackets of many books, all proclaiming: ?...He knew life on many levels. I had come to find something to read beyond the nineteenth-century British novels of the course I was taking. He was also a short-story writer. He was 72. McPherson was educated at Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland (1963–64), Morris Brown College, Atlanta (B.A., 1965), Harvard University Law School (LL.B., 1968), and the University of Iowa (M.F.A., 1969). James Alan McPherson’s “Umbilicus” was one of my favorite essays to teach in 1998, when it was reprinted in that year’s Pushcart Prize anthology. "Right now I'm just taking lessons. McPherson died on July 27 in Iowa City. James Alan McPherson was born on September 16, 1943. He was an African American Essayist. He was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and one of the first to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. James Alan McPherson (September 16, 1943 – July 27, 2016) was an American essayist and short-story writer. Thoughtful, complex, vivid—it taught me. The Jury. See all books authored by James Alan McPherson, including Elbow Room, and Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction, and more on ThriftBooks.com. His mother, the former Mabel Small, worked as a maid. The Jury. A perfect leader. He was renowned for being the … Winner of the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for his second volume of stories, McPherson then built a reputation as a distinguished editor, teacher, memoirist, and an essayist on American culture. James Alan McPherson Jr. was born in Savannah, Ga., on Sept. 16, 1943. In 1968 McPherson published his first volume of short fiction, Hue and Cry. James Alan McPherson taught as a professor of creative writing at the University of Iowa. Short stories reach across decades of racial upheaval and social transformation to reaffirm what remains human and vulnerable in … From Iowa Now.By Tricia Brown & Cristóbal McKinney. He attended segregated schools, and, after working summers as a railroad dining car waiter, earned a bachelor’s degree from Morris Brown College, a historically black institution in Atlanta, in 1965. “Gold Coast” examines the race, class, and age barriers between Robert, a black Harvard student who aspires to be a writer,… Read More James's annual salary is between $90 - 99,999; properties and other assets push James's net … …wild comic techniques resembled Ellison’s; Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. His final book, A Region Not Home: Reflections from Exile (2000), is a collection of essays. He was the first black author to receive the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. James Alan McPherson was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1943. A noble human being. If he could live with these contradictions, he would be simply a representative American.”, “I believe that if one can experience diversity, touch a variety of its people, laugh at its craziness, distill wisdom from its tragedies, and attempt to synthesize all this inside oneself without going crazy,” Mr. McPherson wrote, “one will have earned the right to call oneself ‘citizen of the United States.’”, James Alan McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Writer, Dies at 72. James Alan McPherson explored race and community in his work, becoming the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Former students and colleagues of Iowa Writers’ Workshop professor emeritus James Alan McPherson say those words best describe the teacher, mentor, and friend who influenced and nurtured generations of writers. “What he was proposing in 1896, I think, was that each United States citizen would attempt to approximate the ideals of the nation, be on at least conversant terms with all its diversity, carry the mainstream of the culture inside himself,” Mr. McPherson wrote in The Atlantic in 1978. Despite his coming of age as a writer during the Black Arts movement, his stories transcend issue-oriented politics. Carlos Baker (Chair) Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature, Emeritus, Princeton University. The story was included in “Hue and Cry,” his first short story collection, in 1969, which Laurence Lafore praised in The New York Times Book Review as “superlatively moving and haunting.” The Atlantic hired him as a contributing editor, and Publishers Weekly described him as both “extremely talented” and “very different.”, In 1978, his next anthology, “Elbow Room,” won the Pulitzer for fiction (blacks had won before in other categories, including poetry) and was lauded by Robie Macauley, a former editor of The Kenyon Review, in The New York Times Book Review for its “fine control of language and story, a depth in his characters, humane values.”. J ames Alan McPherson ’68 grew up in poverty in segregated Georgia, and went on to write short fiction and essays that deftly explore race, class and community and what it means to be human. “Gold Coast” examines the race, class, and age barriers between Robert, a black Harvard student who aspires to be a writer, and James Sullivan, an older white janitor who seeks companionship. After a while, I could read faster and faster and faster. Compassionate. He was 72. James Alan McPherson Jr. was born in Savannah, Ga., on Sept. 16, 1943. December, 1978, Atlantic,James Alan McPherson sketched out what may be his philosophy of life. At the age of 35, McPherson received a Pulitzer Prize for … He graduated from Harvard Law School, but decided against a legal career — instead, enrolling in the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he received a master of fine arts degree. Their marriage ended in divorce. Although he continued to write essays, articles, and short stories that appeared in journals, he did not write another book until Crabcakes (1998), a personal memoir. James Alan McPherson (1943–2016) was the author of Hue and Cry, Railroad, and Elbow Room, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1978. His next collection, the award-winning Elbow Room (1977), contained stories—among them “Elbow Room,” “A Loaf of Bread,” and “Widows and Orphans”—that tend to be less bleak than those of the earlier collection and that balance bitterness with hope. When he was eighteen, he got a … Elbow Room, by James Alan McPherson (Atlantic Monthly Press) Share: Twitter Facebook Email. Navigate parenthood with the help of the Raising Curious Learners podcast. James Alan McPherson Savannah-born James Alan McPherson won literary fame for his short stories in the 1960s and 1970s. He married the former Sarah Lynn Charlton. Omissions? By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. After Mr. McPherson had given up his tenured professorship at the University of Virginia and ended his marriage to a white woman, Mr. Ellison described him as “talented,” but disapproved of his “current restlessness.”. McPherson came to the University of Iowa as a student in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1969. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. James Alan McPherson, who overcame segregation and the narrow prism of a legal education to become the first black writer to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, died on Wednesday in Iowa City. His father was the only qualified black master electrician in the state and was continually being denied a license. 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