Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. (born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist. For his most praised novel, Gravity's Rainbow, Pynchon received the National Book Award, and is regularly cited as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Pynchon is a MacArthur Fellow noted for his dense and complex novels, and both his fiction and non-fiction writings encompass a vast array of subject matter, styles and themes, including (but not limited to) the fields of history, science, and mathematics.
Hailing from Long Island, Pynchon served two years in the United States Navy and earned an English degree from Cornell University. After publishing several short stories in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he began composing the novels for which he is best known: V. (1963), The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), Gravity's Rainbow (1973), and Mason & Dixon (1997). Pynchon is also known for being very private; very few photographs of him have ever been published, and rumors about his location and identity have been circulated since the 1960s.