AMERICAN LITERATURE AFTER WORLD WAR II

M. Keith Booker

University of Arkansas

All aspects of American life after World War II were affected to a greater or lesser extent by the Cold War political climate during the years after the war. What might be surprising to many, however, is that literature and culture were among the aspects of American life that were most affected by the Cold War. This fact should not really be surprising, though. A cold war is a cultural war, and the principal American goal in the Cold War was to convince the rest of the world that the American way of life was superior to the Soviet way of life. Meanwhile, one of the most important strategies in this effort was a multi-pronged attempt to demonstrate that the art and literature of the West (and especially of the United States) was more complex and sophisticated than the art and literature of the Soviet Union.

The problem with this effort, of course, was that the United States had never given much priority to art and literature prior to the Cold War, preferring to think of itself as a practical, can-do nation that could solve material problems (and defeat enemies) with science, engineering, hard work, and ingenuity. Art and literature, on the other hand, were typically treated as marginal luxuries in American society. The increased emphasis on art and literature in the United States that came with the Cold War led, not only to an increase in literary and artistic production (often aided with subsidies from the U.S. government), but also to an increased emphasis on education in the arts and humanities. This emphasis, among other things, led to precipitous increases in enrollments in these areas in American universities and triggered a severe understaffing in humanities faculties across the U.S. It takes many years to train a new professor, so it was not a simple matter of ramping up hiring. American universities had to find new and more efficient stop-gap ways to teach things such as literature while new professors were being trained, so that classes could be larger and many of them could be taught by graduate students who were not yet fully qualified to be professors.

The solution to this situation came with the rise of the so-called New Criticism, an innovative formalist style of criticism that focused on the literary properties of texts and disavowed all interest in the relationship between the text and the historical world outside of literature. The dominance of the New Criticism in American universities made it possible to study literature with relatively little knowledge in hand, making literature easier to teach, but ultimately doing great damage to American education as a whole—educational projects designed to evade a need for knowledge are obviously problematic. But the techniques of the New Criticism, which put so much value on literary complexity, had other consequences as well, such as leading to the canonization of a formerly marginal modernism as the epitome of literary high culture.

 The enshrinement of modernism at the center of the Western canon was part of a general revision in the canon that had begun even before the Cold War but was greatly accelerated as a result of the new postwar geopolitical situation. A crucial figure here is F. O. Matthiessen (1902–1950), whose idiosyncratic criticism during the 1930s and 1940s made it impossible to label him easily as a participant in any particular movement, but whose work was widely appropriated in the 1950s by an American literary establishment that marched inexorably toward conformity. Matthiessen paradoxically combined New-Critical aesthetics with seemingly leftist politics much in the spirit of his own calls for the integration of “fact and theory” or for American intellectuals to get more firmly in touch with the material realities of everyday life in America. His readings of Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Hawthorne, and Melville led to a complete reformulation of the canon of antebellum American literature that survived the 1950s and is still virtually intact today, after years of supposedly radical “canon busting.” Indeed, one of the ironies in the history of modern American literary criticism is that Matthiessen offered these five writers, who have been so central to the American canon ever since, in an anticanonical spirit. In particular, he consistently depicts his major American authors as oppositional figures who provide challenges to the status quo of a kind that he himself sees as crucial to democracy. Yet these same figures were appropriated for placement in the Cold War American canon, supplemented with modernist figures such as T.S, Eliot, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner. Meanwhile, modernists such as the Irish writers James Joyce and W. B. Yeats and he English writers Joseph Conrad and E. M. Forster suddenly occupied central positions in the Western canon as a whole.

This canon was then put forth as evidence of the superiority of the Western bloc to the Soviet bloc, much in the way that the British had justified their imperial expansion in the late nineteenth century by proclamations of British cultural superiority (with Shakespeare providing the leading examples). This new canon, meanwhile, encouraged new writers to pursue many of the same formal strategies as those employed by the modernists, which would eventually play a key role in the rise of postmodernism, which became especially visible by the 1970s. In the long 1950s, though, amid these declarations of American literary achievement, American writers were finding it difficult to find a true voice that could work in harmony with the new canon (and the New Criticism). The leading-selling author of the long 1950s, for example, was Mickey Spillane (1918–2006), whose detective novels featured a sadistic, misogynistic protagonist and whose work was almost entirely lacking in the kinds of literary flourishes valued by the New Critics. On the other hand, Jim Thompson (1906–1977), the crime fiction writer of the 1950s who would ultimately draw the most critical respect, labored in obscurity through that decade, novels such as The Killer Inside Me (1952) and Savage Night (1953) being so dark and so weird that they only came to be appreciated many years later.

Meanwhile, surviving modernists—such as Faulkner and Hemingway—produced little of genuine merit in the 1950s, while the novel of the 1950s that would ultimately attain the most critical respect of all was Vladimir Nabokov’s (1899–1977) Lolita (1955), written more in the stylistic spirit of the great European modernists. Unfortunately, it also dealt with sexual subject matter that made it highly problematic in the fastidious fifties (and that would again raise questions in the #MeToo era). In addition, Lolita was written by a Russian émigré who fled back to Europe at the first economic opportunity, escaping what he clearly saw as the vulgarity of America, hardly making him an ideal candidate for the demonstration of American cultural superiority. Of course, Lolita’s Humbert Humbert is a notoriously unreliable narrator, so it is difficult to tell for certain what actually happens in that text—which is one of the things that makes it so modernist. Meanwhile, the other great modernist American novel of the 1950s, Ralph Ellison’s (1913–1994) Invisible Man (1952), is suitably anticommunist but is also a scathing indictment of American racism; it thus had a difficult time receiving attention in the Cold War climate of the long 1950s, given that it hardly works as a demonstration of the superiority of American democracy.

Even J. D. Salinger’s (1919–2010) The Catcher in the Rye (1951), which became such a favorite of young Americans (especially young American males) in the 1950s, is highly cynical about the prospects of the American dream. In particular, this novel is a coming-of-age story that clearly depicts the attainment of maturity as a loss of innocence. The book takes place during one crucial weekend in the life of Holden Caulfield, its 16-year-old narrator and protagonist. Holden comes from a wealthy white Christian family and is thus very centrally placed in American society. But that centrality itself is a problem, threatening to drag him into the heart of a commodified conformist society he regards as utterly “phony.”

Other respected American novels of the years after World War II were even darker in their vision of America. For example, in one of the first important postwar novels, Norman Mailer’s (1923–2007) The Naked and the Dead (1948), the American forces succeed in their siege of the Japanese-held Pacific island of Anopopei, but the protagonist, Lt. Hearn, is killed in the process. Meanwhile, the Americans win with a savagery that makes it clear that this is no case of good guys defeating bad guys—and that does not bode well for a postwar world dominated by American military power. In the final chapter, the triumphant American forces scour the island, hunting down and killing virtually defenseless Japanese stragglers like troublesome insects. After months of hard battle, we are told, “the mopping up was comparatively pleasant, almost exciting. The killing lost all dimension, bothered the men far less than discovering some ants in their bedding” (718).

The long 1950s were a relatively rich period in American drama, with some of the most recognized American dramatists doing important work during the period. But drama was again somewhat at odds with the Cold War project of demonstrating the superiority of the American way. For example, the most important play of the decade was probably Arthur Miller’s (1915–2005) The Crucible (1953), which quite transparently treats the Salem witch trials as an analog to the anticommunist paranoia of the 1950s.

Ultimately, the literature that would come to be most identified with the long 1950s is the work of the so-called “Beat Generation,” a group of novelists and poets whose work collectively rejected the conservative morality of the decade in favor of an individual quest for spiritual and material freedom. This freedom often involved drugs and sex, and the Beats were important forerunners of the Hippie counterculture of the 1960s. Though the original Beats met at New York’s Columbia University in the mid-1940s, the group ultimately came to be most associated with San Francisco, where most of the participants congregated in the 1950s (and which was also an important birthplace of Hippie culture). San Francisco, in fact, served as a center of poetic activity during this period, as the Beats were joined in the city by a number of others in the so-called San Francisco Renaissance, with poet Kenneth Rexroth (1905–1982) as its founding figure. This phenomenon served as part of a larger cultural shift that saw California—long the home of the film industry but otherwise secondary to New York as a center of American culture—gain a new importance.

Beat novels such as Jack Kerouac’s (1922–1969) On the Road (1957) and William S. Burroughs’ (1914–1997) Naked Lunch (1959)—an important early manifestation of postmodernism—have become important parts of the American literary tradition, even though both are so resolutely anti-authoritarian that they have typically not been regarded as part of the canon. In any case, it is for poetry that the Beats are best known. LeRoi Jones (who later changed his name to Amiri Baraka, 1934–2014), was a Beat poet who remained an important African American poet for many decades after the movement itself began to unravel. There were also a number of women poets among the Beat writers, but the movement was dominated by white male writers, such as Gary Snyder (1930– ), Philip Lamantia (1927–2005), Michael McClure (1932–2020), Philip Whalen (1923–2002), and Gregory Corso (1937–2001). Ultimately, though, the poet who became most associated with the Beat movement was Allen Ginsberg (1926–1997), whose long poem Howl (1956) comes as close as anything to being the centerpiece of the movement. Openly gay, Ginsberg also came to be closely associated with the Hippie culture and the antiwar movement of the 1960s, becoming something of a culture hero to the entire 1960s counterculture (though Ginsberg was himself also known for his own hero worship of young folk singer Bob Dylan).

The Beats have exercised a considerable amount of influence over subsequent American literature, though American poetry since the 1950s has been marked by considerable diversity. For example, postmodernism has been a strong force in poetry, even if it has not been as dominant (or well-defined) there as in fiction. Charles Olson (1910–1970), often considered the father of postmodern American poetry, began writing even before the Beats, whom he influenced. Olson’s Maximus Poems (various volumes published in 1960, 1968, and 1975; first published as a whole in 1983) are often described as a postmodern version of Ezra Pound’s modernist Cantos. Olson taught at North Carolina’s experimental Black Mountain College, eventually becoming its rector, during the early 1950s, and his influence was especially strong on other poets who taught there, collectively constituting the Black Mountain school of American poetry. This school, like the Beats, was interested in exploring new, more open and free-flowing poetic forms, but they approached the task in a more academic and studied fashion. Robert Creeley (1926–2005), Denise Levertov (1923–1997), and Robert Duncan (1919–1988) were particularly important members of this school. Duncan also spent considerable time in San Francisco, participating in the San Francisco Renaissance.

In addition to the Beats, a number of other American poets clearly influenced (and were influenced by) the counterculture of the 1960s. Such poets included older figures such as Olson and even Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes (1901–1967), while Baraka became an important voice of the Civil Rights Movement; but the 1960s also included new authors of protest poetry, while one hallmark of the era was a blurring of the boundary between poetry and music, with songwriters such as Bob Dylan (1941– ) and Gil Scott-Heron (1949–2011) also coming to be regarded as important poets.

One key school of American poetry clearly associated with postmodernism is the so-called Language school (named after the poetry magazine of that title), which emphasizes the status of poetry as a linguistic construct and grants a great deal of autonomy to the reader in determining the meaning of a poem. This school includes a number of women poets, and women in general have played an increasingly important role in American poetry of recent decades. This trend includes a number of African American women poets, such as Nikki Giovanni (1943– ), who joined Baraka as members of the Black Arts Movement.

Recent decades in American poetry have been marked by considerable diversity, as can be seen in the two American poets to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature in recent years. The 2016 Nobel Laureate, for example, was Dylan, the writer of numerous songs that have provided an important part of the soundtrack of the past half-century of American history. Meanwhile, the 2020 Laureate was Louise Glück (1956– ), author of intensely personal poetry that also comments on the interface between the individual and the modern world. Glück, incidentally, teaches at Yale University and is indicative of the way in which universities in general have become a haven for poets in recent years, thanks to the expansion of creative writing programs around the country. One of the founders of the University of Arkansas writing program was the important poet Miller Williams (1930–2015), and the current faculty includes several award-winning poets.

It was not clear at the time, but, in retrospect, some of the most important novels of the 1950s were those—such as Naked Lunch and William Gaddis’s (1922–1998) The Recognitions (1955)—that could ultimately be identified as forerunners of the postmodern fiction that evolved through the 1960s and emerged fully formed in the 1970s. The Beats, in general, exercised considerable influence on the evolution of postmodernism and especially on such individual writers as Thomas Pynchon (1937– ), whose The Crying of Lot 49 (1965) is one of the early classics of evolving American postmodernism, and whose Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) can be taken as an announcement of the arrival of full-blown postmodernism (and still stands as perhaps the most important American postmodern novel).

Though Faulkner, Hemingway, and John Steinbeck would win Nobel Prizes in Literature between 1949 and 1962 mostly for work written before 1945, the first American author to win a Nobel for work done after World War II was the Canadian-born Saul Bellow (1915–2005), who won the Nobel in 1976, having established his reputation in the 1950s with novels such as The Adventures of Augie March (1953), winner of the National Book Award. At one point, three straight Bellow novels—Herzog (1964), Mr. Sammler’s Planet (1970), and Humboldt’s Gift (1975)—won the National Book Award, making him one of the most awarded authors of his generation. Bellow was also a key member of a group of Jewish American writers who were at the forefront of American literature, often focusing their writing on the Jewish American experience. This has been particularly true of the prolific Philip Roth (1933–2018), who also won a number of prestigious awards for novels written in a variety of veins and genres, from the sex comedy of Portnoy’s Complaint (1969), to the dystopian alternative history of The Plot Against America (2004), to a series of nine novels about novelist Nathan Zuckerman, who serves as a sort of stand-in for Roth himself. The Jewish American novelist Joseph Heller (1923–1999), especially with his World War II novel Catch-22 (1961), made important contributions to an absurdist strain that became important in American literature during this period.

This absurdist vein also included the master satirist Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007), who began his career with the dystopian novel Player Piano (1952) and who also drew significant attention for the science fiction novels The Sirens of Titan (1959) and Cat’s Cradle (1963). He then became a major figure with the publication of Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), a World War II novel with science fiction elements that still remains his most respected work. Novels such as Breakfast of Champions (1971), Slapstick (1976), Jailbird (1979), Galápagos (1985), and Hocus Pocus (1990) were written in a satirical mode that comments on American society in darkly comic ways. He topped off his career as a novelist with the autobiographical Timequake (1997).

Meanwhile, in a more conventional realist mode, John Updike (1932–2009), a writer often compared with Roth, produced a number of novels that provided a running commentary on American society over several decades. Central to his large body of work is the series of novels—Rabbit, Run (1960), Rabbit Redux (1971), Rabbit Is Rich (1981), and Rabbit at Rest (1990)—which track the life of a single protagonist over a period of thirty years, at the same time tracking changes in American society over the same period.

African American writers such as Ellison and Richard Wright (1908–1960)—author of the leftist classic Native Son (1940)—gained renewed attention thanks to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, while this movement also helped to inspire a number of new writers of color to produce important work that has greatly enriched American literature since that time. One writer who deserves special mention in this regard is the gay African American writer James Baldwin (1924–1987), a writer who lived most of his adult life in Paris in order to escape bigotry in America. He still spent considerable time in the U.S., though, participating in and becoming a leading intellectual and literary voice of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. His work and activism also provided inspiration to the Gay Rights Movement during its early decades. Still, Baldwin’s incisive critiques of American racism and homophobia were so radical that he is only now beginning to receive his full due as a writer. Recent renewed attention to his work no doubt owes something to the growing acceptance of gay perspectives in American culture, as well as to renewed awareness of the problem of racism in America thanks to movements such as Black Lives Matter. Baldwin has also gained wider attention thanks to the recent release of the documentary film I Am Not Your Negro (2016), based on an unfinished manuscript by Baldwin that provides a history of American racism through the optic of the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. More recently, Barry Jenkins’ 2018 film adaptation of Baldwin’s 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) was a critical success. Other key novels by Baldwin include the semi-autobiographical Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953), Giovanni’s Room (1956), and Just Above My Head (1979). His essays and short stories are also important, as in the extremely influential collection of essays The Fire Next Time (1963).

The Women’s Movement of the 1960s also had a major impact on American literature, both by encouraging a re-examination of the works of women writers of the past and by inspiring a new generation of American women writers. On the other hand, the influence went both ways, as when Mary McCarthy (1912–1989), with her 1963 novel The Group,became an inspiration for the Women’s Movement, despite her own reluctance to be identified as a feminist. Meanwhile, the combined impact of the Women’s Movement and the Civil Rights Movement provided inspiration for African American women writers such as Toni Morrison (1931–2019), who burst on the scene with a series of novels in the 1970s, including The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), and Song of Solomon (1977). Her slavery novel Beloved (1987) was one of the highlights of American literature in the 1980s and is widely considered to be her masterpiece. Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, becoming the first native-born American writer to win that prize since Steinbeck in 1962.

The African American woman writer Alice Walker (1944– ) also rose to prominence in the 1970s, reaching the pinnacle of her fame with her novel The Color Purple (1982), which won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. As a critic, Walker championed Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), helping it to gain renewed attention. As a thinker, Walker provided an important new point of view for American feminism, which had hitherto been dominated by white women. Indeed, Walker’s black feminist perspective was new enough that she coined the term “womanism” to set it apart from white-dominated feminism.

N. Scott Momaday’s (1934– ) novel House Made of Dawn (1968) won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and has been credited with triggering an upsurge in the production of Native American Literature that has been labeled the “Native American Renaissance.” Key novels in this movement include James Welch’s (1940–2003) Winter in the Blood (1974), Leslie Marmon Silko’s (1948– ) Ceremony (1977), Gerald Vizenor’s (1934– ) Darkness in Saint Louis Bearheart (1978, revised in 1990 as Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles), andLouise Erdrich’s (1954– ) Love Medicine (1984).

With Gravity’s Rainbow leading the way, the 1970s marked the first decade in which full-blown postmodernism became the dominant movement in American literature. Set in the years just after World War II, Gravity’s Rainbow was filled with linguistic shenanigans and playful references to popular culture. It also marked the rise of “historiographic metafiction,” a kind of postmodern fiction set in the historical past but not necessarily limited by accepted versions of historical truth, often mixing real people and fictional characters. Other examples include works such as Ishmael Reed’s (1938– ) sprawling African American novel Mumbo Jumbo (1972), which includes important elements of magic realism, and E. L. Doctorow’s (1931–2015) leftist historical novel Ragtime (1975), which makes especially good use of a wide range of historical figures in creating a vivid vision of the United States in the first decades of the twentieth century. Going forward, novels such as Don DeLillo’s (1936– ) White Noise (1985) and Underworld (1997) and David Foster Wallace’s (1962–2008) Infinite Jest (1996) demonstrated the staying power of postmodern fiction, while Cormac McCarthy’s (1933– ) ultra-violent Blood Meridian (1985) was far less playful in its treatment of the historical past. Important new voices began to sound in American literature in the 1980s as well, including the Hispanic American Sandra Cisneros (1954– ), author of The House on Mango Street (1983), and the Asian American Amy Tan (1952– ), author of The Joy Luck Club (1989)

The twenty-first century got off to a fast start in American fiction with the 2001 publication of Michael Chabon’s (1963– ) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2001), which draws upon the Jewish-dominated roots of the American comic book industry, and Jonathan Franzen’s (1959– ) The Corrections, a family saga written in a largely realist vein. Major figures such as Pynchon, Doctorow, DeLillo, and McCarthy continued to produce important work well into the new century as well, as American fictionhas continued to be dominated by works in a postmodern vein. However, that fiction has also been enriched by a variety of multicultural developments, such as the growing importance of Hispanic American literature. For example, a 2015 poll conducted by the BBC named The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), a sprawling postmodern romp by the Dominican-born Juno Díaz (1968– ), as the greatest novel of the twenty-first century to that point. Native American literature has also received increased attention in recent years. For example, novels such as Erdrich’s The Round House (2012) and The Night Watchman (2020) have won major literary awards, while, in 2019, Joy Harjo (1951– ) became the first Native American to be named the Poet Laureate of the United States.

African American literature has also remained strong in the twenty-first century. For example, Colson Whitehead (1969– ), who mixes postmodern inventiveness with a serious concern with the history of race in America in The Underground Railroad (2016). Whitehead, however, turns to a more realist mode in The Nickel Boys (2019), which deals with the history of atrocities committed against the inmates at a Florida reform school. Both of these novels won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Meanwhile, the Nigerian woman writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1977– ), who was educated in the United States and still splits her time between the U.S. and her native Nigeria, is also a marker of the increasingly global nature of all culture. Novels by Adichie such as Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), set in the Nigerian Civil War (1967–1970), and Americanah (2013), set in both Nigeria and the U.S., are among the most critically respected of the current century.

Finally, it should be noted that various types of genre fiction have remained important in American culture since 1945. One of the most prominent American authors of this period, for example, has been the prolific horror writer Stephen King (1947– ). Science fiction, however, is perhaps the type of genre fiction that has been most coherently conceived as a literary phenomenon. Science fiction as we know it congealed in the pulp magazines that arose in America in the years before World War II. The long 1950s were then marked by a greater maturity in science fiction publishing that saw the genre shift much of its most important work into the novel form, with leading writers from the pulps—such as Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988) and Isaac Asimov (1920–1992)—graduating to the novel form, sometimes by consolidating earlier stories into novels.

Science fiction responded to the changing political climate of the 1960s with a so-called New Wave (a term borrowed from the French nouvelle vague movement in film) that emphasized social and political relevance as well as greater literary complexity. The New Wave was a genuinely transatlantic phenomenon, spearheaded by editors such as Britain’s Michael Moorcock (New Worlds magazine) and America’s Judith Merril (in the anthology England Swings). Such editors attempted to make sf more sophisticated in terms of literary style as well as content, responding especially to trends of the 1960s to include franker treatment of issues such as drugs and sexuality. In addition to Moorcock himself, leading New Wave writers include the British Brian Aldiss, J. G. Ballard, and M. John Harrison, as well as the Americans Samuel Delany, Thomas Disch, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, and Norman Spinrad. The New Wave was dominated to some extent by short stories, but New Wave writers also produced important novels, including Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron (1969) and Delany’s Triton (1976). Finally, the New Wave’s interest in politically relevant fiction helped, among other things, to encourage more women to write sf, and one of the most important phenomena related to the New Wave was a surge in the production of utopian fiction, especially that by women writers such as Ursula K. Le Guin and Joanna Russ in the 1970s, though Ernest Callenbach’s environmentalist utopia Ecotopia (1975) can be placed within this phenomenon as well.

In the 1980s, science fiction moved in an important new direction as it responded to innovations in digital technologies with the rise of “cyberpunk” science fiction, of which William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984) is generally seen as the foundational work. Cyberpunk fiction again tended toward literary sophistication (several cyberpunk writers counted Pynchon as a major influence) but also tended to be rather cynical and pessimistic about the ability of technology to build a better world. However, some science fiction writers, such as the African American woman writer Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) and the socialist environmentalist Kim Stanley Robinson (1952– ), countered with sophisticated political novels with strong utopian dimensions. Butler’s “Xenogenesis” trilogy—Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988), and Imago (1989)—and Robinson’s “Mars” trilogy—Red Mars (1992), Green Mars (1993), and Blue Mars (1996)—were among the most important works of sf of the last decades of the twentieth century.

In recent years, older writers such as Robinson have continued to produce important work, but perhaps the most exciting recent trend is the rise of women science fiction writers, as signaled by the fact that, in 1921 (and for the first time), all of the nominees for the Hugo Award for Best Novel were women. Many of the leading women writers in science fiction in recent years have been women of color, as signaled by the fact that the African American women writer N. K. Jemisin (1972– ), whose work mixes fantasy with science fiction, won the Hugo Award for Best Novel for all three novels in her “Broken Earth” trilogy (2015–2017), thus becoming the first African American author to win that award at all, and the first author to win the Best Novel Hugo in three consecutive years, as well as the first to win for all three novels in a trilogy.