Obituary (revised)

February 11, 2010


MIAMI, FL – Valerie Valdes, the author whose only novel, Job’s Complaint, won both the Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize the year it was released, was remembered in a ceremonial ship burial today off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida. She died of natural causes at her home in South Miami on Thursday night, according to a statement made by family members.

Born in California and raised in Miami, Ms. Valdes eventually moved to Maine with her young family to pursue what she later described in an interview as “the ideal life of a writer, or what I thought it should be, in a place with actual seasons and no distractions.” It was there, at age 30, that she suffered a devastating automobile accident. Unused to driving on icy roads, she lost control of her car on a patch of black ice and crashed into a tree. She was discovered hours later, and while the paramedics were able to save her life, she was left in a persistent vegetative state at Mercy Hospital in Bangor.

Over the next thirty years, Ms. Valdes composed her novel and communicated it to doctors through a tedious battery of yes or no questions using increasingly sophisticated brain scanning techniques. The attendant in charge of taking dictation described it as “like using a Ouija board, where you fish around for the right letter and then write it down and move on to the next one.” It was well received by critics and the public alike, despite some opposition to the use of her terrible condition as a marketing tool.

Within months of publication, medical advances made it possible for Ms. Valdes’ brain damage to be repaired and she was successfully returned to full consciousness. She spent a whirlwind year in the limelight, appearing on a number of talk shows, news programs and radio stations between stops on an international book tour. After her most famous lecture at Brown University, entitled “Write or Die,” she returned to Miami and vanished from the public eye. Despite her reclusive nature and refusal to sell the rights to her novel or life story to film producers, Job’s Complaint entered the literary canon, where it remains firmly entrenched to this day.

She is survived by her husband, two children, five grandchildren and four cats.


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