From The New York Times
William Gay, a self-taught novelist from rural Tennessee who emerged from obscurity in his late 50s with critically praised books in the Southern Gothic style, died last Thursday at his home, a log cabin in Hohenwald, southwest of Nashville. He was 70. The cause was presumed to be a heart attack, said Sonny Brewer, a friend and editor in chief at Mr. Gay’s most recent publisher, MacAdam/Cage.
The son of a sharecropper who spent much of his working life in blue-collar jobs, Mr. Gay wrote about rustic Tennessee with an inside observer’s eye for local color and a hyperbolist’s delight in regional idiosyncrasies. Like William Faulkner, who focused much of his oeuvre in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi, Mr. Gay created a hometown for his fiercely eccentric, furiously motivated or morally challenged characters — Ackerman’s Field, Tenn. And like his acknowledged influences, Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy, he wrote stories and novels rife with tortuous family drama, events bordering on the supernatural and violence that could erupt with a flash.