Lewis “Buddy” Nordan passed away on Friday, April 13, 2012, in Hudson, OH. He was 72.
Born on August 23, 1939, Nordan grew up in Itta Bena, MS. He earned a Ph.D. in English from Auburn University in 1973 and served as an instructor in English at Auburn University from 1966 to 1971. Before retiring in 2005, Lewis Nordan lived in Pittsburgh, PA, where he taught Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh.
Nordan wrote four novels, three collections of short stories and a memoir entitled Boy with Loaded Gun. His second novel, Wolf Whistle, won the Southern Book Award, and his subsequent novel, The Sharpshooter Blues, won the Notable Book Award from the American Library Association and the Fiction Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. Nordan was renowned for his distinctive comic writing style, even while addressing more serious personal and cultural issues such as heartbreak, loss, violence and racism. He transformed tragic characters and events into moments of artistic transcendence, illuminating what he called the “history of all human beings.”
Nordan was the subject of a major conference at Auburn in 2009, which resulted in a groundbreaking book of critical essays entitled Lewis Nordan: Humor, Heartbreak, and Hope (Pebble Hill Books, University of Alabama Press, 2011) Nordan’s Sharpshooter Blues was Auburn’s first common reading program selection.
“Buddy had the rare combination of having unusual talent and being a consummate practitioner of his craft,” notes Dr. Barbara Baker, editor of Lewis Nordan: Humor, Heartbreak, and Hope. “He claimed that he became a writer during his years at Auburn, and over a long career he created fiction that was often outrageously humorous at the same time it could break your heart. He was also a wonderful person who was genuinely appreciated by some of the best writers and critics of our time. He will be missed.”