Horror writer Thomas Ligotti is about to enter the American literary canon.
Next months Penguin Classics will publish a volume of Mr. Ligotti's short stories, making him one of 10 living writers, including Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo, among the hundreds the imprint has published in the U.S.
Mr. Ligotti's oeuvre, which has the macabre flavor of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, has a fervent niche following. Last year, though, buzz surrounding the first season of HBO's "True Detective" helped propel Mr. Ligotti's bleak and, at times, darkly comic work to a broader audience.
Early in 2014, a Wall Street Journal blog post pointed out similarities between "True Detective" and Mr. Ligotti's 2010 philosophical tome, "The Conspiracy Against the Human Race." Nic Pizzolatto, creator of the Emmy-nominated show, said Mr. Ligotti helped influence the dialogue of protagonist Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey).
In August 2014, an article on the website Lovecraft eZine accused Mr. Pizzolatto of plagiarizing Mr. Ligotti's work. That set off an Internet firestorm that led to denials from HBO and the "True Detective" creator. Mr. Ligotti declined to comment on the matter.
For more than 30 years, Mr. Ligotti, a Detroit native who now lives on the west coast of Florida, has spun tales that obliterate the line between nightmare and reality.
Penguin Classics is publishing his first two short-story collections, 1985's "Songs of a Dead Dreamer" and 1991's "Grimscribe,"on Oct 6.
Mr. Ligotti's writing career was founded on sickness and nightmares An abdominal rupture at the age of two sent him into surgery and his childhood was marked by illness. "Often my illnesses were accompanied by fevers and deranged perceptions that they bring about," the 62-yearold told The Wall Street Journal in a recent email.
The Penguin Random House imprint hopes Mr. Ligotti's stories will appeal to fans of Franz Kafka, Shirley Jackson and Angela Carter. Mr. Ligotti's stories are light on action and heavy on dread. Their motifs include puppets, dying towns, deranged loners and the notion that humanity is an aberration spat out by a chaotic void.
"I think his mastery of a sense of unease in the modern world, a sense of things not being quite what they're portrayed to be, isn't just relevant to our times but also very relatable," said author Jeff VanderMeer, who wrote the foreword to the new edition. "He's one of those writers who finds a broader audience because he changes your brain when you read him."