Paul Zindel was an American writer born on May 15, 1936 in Staten Island, New York. As a teenager, he was an avid writer and clearly had a passion for the arts. However, after graduating high school, he attended Wagner College to study chemistry. It was only when he took a creative writing course with renowned playwright Edward Albee that he reignited his love for literature. In his post-college years, Zindel supported himself by teaching physics and chemistry at the high school level. On the side, he continued to write stories and plays. His first produced play, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, was written in 1964 and earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
In 1968, Zindel published his young-adult novel, The Pigman, which tells the story of high school sophomores Lorraine and John, who befriend an elderly neighbor named Mr. Pignati. Lorraine and John suffer from neglectful parenting, so they find a necessary solace in spending time with Mr. Pignati. Nevertheless, this newly formed bond is tested throughout the course of the story, and their friendship threatens to fall apart.
Upon its publication, The Pigman received positive reviews for its heartwarming portrayal of an unlikely friendship. It has often been likened to other acclaimed novels such as The Outsiders by SE Hinton and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. It went on to win the New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year Award and was named an ALA Notable Children’s Book. Despite its success, Zindel’s novel also garnered some backlash due to its sexual undertones and use of swear words. Consequently, The Pigman has been banned in some classrooms, but many other schools believe it contains valuable lessons to be taught to young students.