James Alan McPherson
Birthplace: Savannah, Georgia
James Alan McPherson appeared on the literary scene in 1968 when “Gold Coast,” taken from his first published volume of short fiction, Hue and Cry (1968), won a contest in the Atlantic Monthly. McPherson's most notable work of short fiction is Elbow Room (1977), which made him the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (1978). In addition, he has also been the recipient of several prestigious grants and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1972–73) and a MacArthur Foundation Award (1981, the so-called “genius” award). He has held numerous professorial posts, including at the University of Virginia (1976–81) and at the University of Iowa (1981–), from which he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing (1971). Among McPherson's other works are A World Unsuspected (1987), The Prevailing South (1988), Confronting Racial Differences (1990), and most recently, the memoir Crabcakes (1997).