Thursday, June 4, 2009

This Date in Literary History

On June 4, 1940, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter [PS3525.A1772H4 1953] by Carson McCullers was first published.

McCullers, a native of Columbus, Georgia, was only 23 when this, her first novel, was published to critical acclaim. She went on to write three more novels, numerous short stories, a play and several poems, as well as an unfinished autobiography she dictated from her deathbed.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter tells the story of a year in the life of five misfits living in a small, unnamed Southern town in the late 1930s. One, a deaf-mute named John Singer, becomes a sounding board for the other four: a young girl who, as the author did, aspires to become a classical pianist; a lonely widower who owns the local cafe; a would-be socialist agitator; and an African-American physician struggling to maintain his dignity and find his place in the community. As the lives of the major characters intersect in the small town, they confide their secrets to the one man who cannot hear them, as he longs for the one friend he has with whom he can communicate.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was adapted into a movie in 1968, starring Alan Arkin as Singer. McCullers herself didn't get to see the film; she died of a stroke in September of 1967. More recently the book received another honor which revived its popularity and its place on the best-seller lists: it was a 2004 selection for Oprah's Book Club.

You can find the book on the third floor of the Hill Freeman Library and Spruill Learning Center.

(Source: NoveList)

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