The Accidental Tourist

The Accidental Tourist Study Guide

The Accidental Tourist is a novel written by the American author Anne Tyler in 1985. The novel revolves around a protagonist named Macon Leary, a middle-aged writer of travel guides. Macon and his wife of 20 years, Sarah, struggle to maintain their relationship after their son is tragically killed in a random murder at a fast-food restaurant. The couple decides to separate, sparking a deeply intense process for Macon in which he comes to terms with his grief and sense of purpose in life. For a while, Macon isolates himself, retreating into his old family home and avoiding contact with the outside world. But through a chance encounter with Muriel Pritchett—a younger woman who has volunteered to train his dog—Macon starts to come back to life. He especially finds comfort in serving as a surrogate father to Muriel's own young son, Alexander. Anne Tyler was inspired to write the story to illustrate to readers the grief of losing a child and how love can be regained in other ways.

The book was well-received by reviewers and readers alike, with critic Larry McMurtry of The New York Times commending the author on the clarity of her characters. The Accidental Tourist was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 1985. In 1988, the novel was also turned into a highly popular feature film, starring William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, and Geena Davis.