Results of the National Book Award in the year 1974.
Tyrone Slothrop is an archetypal innocent abroad, but in the worst possible circumstances: he’s an American on a mission to locate V-2 rocket-launching sites in war-torn Europe. On a larger level, the novel illustrates the struggle between those who perceive and rebel against the war, seeing it as an overt movement toward the obliteration of the individual, and those who suppress individual identity to serve the war machine controlled by “Them.” Which side Slothrop is on remains highly ambiguous. An encyclopedic work much like Joyce’s Ulysses, this is perhaps one of the two or three most critically acclaimed and pondered novels of the 20th century.
Gravity’s Rainbow is dedicated to Richard Farina, a young writer Pynchon met at Cornell whose promising literary career was cut short by a fatal motorcycle accident. In 1974, the Pulitzer Prize Committee recommended this novel unanimously, but the Pulitzer Prize Board rejected it as “obscene” and “unreadable.” As a result, there was no prize awarded that year.