The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

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Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

With the publication of The Accidental Tourist, Tyler’s professional and popular reputation expanded. The third of her books to be nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award—after Morgan’s Passing (1980) and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982)—The Accidental Tourist was the first to be awarded the prize. Aided by the release of a Hollywood film version of the book, Tyler’s readership expanded measurably. As a result of her growing reputation, several of her earlier works that had enjoyed limited success were reprinted. In addition, her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons (1988), won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Tyler later published a twelfth novel, Saint Maybe (1991). She has also written numerous book reviews and short stories.

While Tyler credits the Southern writer and master of eccentric characterizations Eudora Welty as an early and principal influence, her own writing defies classification. While there are Southern qualities in her writing, including depictions of eccentric individuals and regional speech patterns, her style is unique and immediately identifiable as her own. The setting of...

(The entire section is 337 words.)