American novelist and short-story writer, whose keen ear for dialogue and life-like characters have won critical acclaim. Several of Tyler’s novels focus on loneliness, isolation, human interactions of eccentric middle-class people living in disunited families.
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but grew up in North Carolina, as the daughter of an industrial chemist and social worker. The family lived among various Quaker communities in the rural south before settling in Raleigh, North Carolina.
At the age of 19 Tyler graduated from Duke University, Raleigh, where she won the Anne Flexner Award for creative writing. She did post-graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. Before settling in Baltimore Tyler was the Russian bibliographer at Duke University and worked in the law library of McGill University.
As a writer Tyler made her debut with If Morning Ever Comes in 1964, depicting a young man returning from Columbia to North Carolina and attempting to find his own way under family expectations. It was followed by The Tin Can Tree, and A Slipping-Down Life.
From 1967 Tyler worked as a full-time writer. She won in 1977 an award from the American Academy for Earthly Possessions. Her novel Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982) explores tensions inside a family seen from the perspective from each member in turn. Absentminded Ezra, the youngest son, runs the restaurant of the title, and comes in contact with various characters seeking emotional fulfillment.
The Accidental Tourist won in 1986 National Book Critics Circle Award and was made into a film in 1988, directed by Lawrence Kasdan and starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner. It tells a story of a man who writers travel guides for those who want to ‘take trips without a jolt’ and comes out of his shell after meeting a dog trainer and her young son. As is many Tyler’s novels, the characters are trapped by the past and are unable to see their selves or to feel alive, but Tyler also ponders the possibility of a happy accident, which could change one’s life and open new ways of personal development.
In 1989 Tyler won Pulitzer Price for Breathing Lessons . Among her other works are Saint Maybe (1991) and Ladder of the Year.