Carson McCullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is a powerful exploration of alienation and loneliness in 1930s America, published in Penguin Modern Classics.
Carson McCullers' prodigious first novel was published to instant acclaim when she was just twenty-three. Set in a small town in the middle of the deep South, it is the story of John Singer, a lonely deaf-mute, and a disparate group of people who are drawn towards his kind, sympathetic nature. The owner of the café where Singer eats every day, a young girl desperate to grow up, an angry socialist drunkard, a frustrated black doctor: each pours their heart out to Singer, their silent confidant, and he in turn changes their disenchanted lives in ways the could never imagine. Moving, sensitive and deeply humane, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter explores loneliness, the human need for understanding and the search for love.
Carson McCullers (1917-1967) was the critically acclaimed author of several popular novels in the 1940s and '50s, including The Member of the Wedding (1946), adapted for the stage in the 1950s and filmed in 1952 and 1997. Her novels frequently depicted life in small towns of the southeastern United States and were marked by themes of loneliness and spiritual isolation. Other films based on her books are Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967, with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando), The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968, starring Alan Arkin) and The Ballad of the Sad Café (1991, starring Vanessa Redgrave).
If you enjoyed The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, you might like Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
'She has examined the heart of man with an understanding ... that no other writer can hope to surpass'
'A remarkable book ... [McCullers] writes with a sweep and certainty that are overwhelming'
The New York Times