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Pat Conroy is known principally for his novels. His earliest published work, The Boo, is a collection of sketches about one of his college teachers; it was self-published in 1970. Two nonfiction books, The Water Is Wide (1972) and My Losing Season (2002), are autobiographical. He is also coauthor, with Suzanne Williamson Pollak, of The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life (2004). His interest in regional cuisines of the American South is evidenced by his contributing introductory material for several cookbooks by southern chefs. Others who have included his introductory remarks in their works. Conroy cowrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for the film The Prince of Tides (1991), which is based on his 1986 novel.

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Pat Conroy’s novels have all been best sellers, and he is part of a group of writers contributing a distinctly southern sensibility to popular novels of the late twentieth century. He is a major part of the post-Civil Rights movement generation of writers who write about their conflicted feelings toward the South. He speaks with honesty about both the bad and the good in the region. Most of his literary prizes and awards have recognized his excellence as a southern artist. These awards include the Georgia Governor’s Award for Arts; the Lillian Smith Award for Fiction, given by the Southern Regional Council; the Thomas Cooper Society Library Award from the University of South Carolina; and the South Carolina Governor’s Award in the Humanities for distinguished achievement. Additionally, Conroy was the first recipient of the Stanley W. Lindberg Award, given by the Georgia Center for the Book, and he won the Thomas Wolfe Prize from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Conroy is also known for his contributions to the ongoing struggle for racial equality, and he was awarded the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust Humanitarian Award in 1996. Most of his major novels have been made into films, and in 1991, he was nominated, along with Becky Johnston, for Best...

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Critical Essays