When The Accidental Tourist was published in 1985, Anne Tyler was already a well-established and successful author. Her tenth novel soon became a bestseller and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Most reviewers consider this to be her best work. The novel has also been made into a successful film starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner. As in many of her previous works, The Accidental Tourist focuses on the complexities of family relationships. In this story, middle-aged travel writer Macon Leary finds himself alone and miserable after his son is murdered and his wife leaves him. As a result, he realizes that he is in danger of becoming "a dried up kernel of a man that nothing real penetrates." During the course of the novel, however, Macon confronts his suffering and carves out a new life for himself with the help of an energetic and eccentric young woman and her son. Tyler's intermingling of comedy and tragedy results in a bittersweet tale of loss and recovery. Critics applaud the novel's lovingly drawn and compelling characters and Tyler's insight into the complex inner workings of the American family.