A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel written by John Kennedy Toole, published in 1980, 11 years after the author's suicide. The book was published through the efforts of writer Walker Percy (who also contributed a revealing foreword) and Toole's mother Thelma Toole, quickly becoming a cult classic, and later a mainstream success. Toole posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981. It is an important part of the 'modern canon' of Southern literature. The title derives from the epigraph by Jonathan Swift: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." (Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting) The story is set in New Orleans in the early 1960s. The central character is Ignatius J. Reilly, an educated but slothful man still living with his mother at age 30 in the city's Uptown neighborhood, who, due to an incident early in the book, must set out to get a job. In his quest for employment he has various adventures with colorful French Quarter characters.