Carson McCullers was the winner of a number of literary awards during her lifetime, including membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters, two John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships, and an Arts and Letters Grant. She also won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, a Gold Medal, and the Donaldson Award (all for the play version of The Member of the Wedding). Her fiction and nonfiction works were published in a number of reputable magazines, including The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, and Mademoiselle. For her story “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud,” she was nominated for an O. Henry Award.
A praiseworthy writer of short fiction, McCullers succeeds with objective narration, the theme of loneliness, and her lyric compression. While McCullers is perhaps not as great a writer of short stories as her peers Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and Katherine Anne Porter, she is nevertheless successful at affecting her readers’ emotions. The brevity and compression of stories such as “The Jockey” and “The Sojourner” are remarkable based on any standards. Although her techniques are not as innovative as those of many other postmodern fiction writers, she influenced, among others, Truman Capote, Flannery O’Connor, and Anne Tyler, particularly with the expert use of the grotesque and the freakish, and the portrayal of human alienation. Her knowledge of human psychology also makes her a great spokesperson for the complexity of human experience.