National Endowment of the Arts - The Big Read
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

by Carson McCullers

The dimensions of a work of art are seldom realized by the author until the work is accomplished.


Carson McCullers, 1955 (Bettmann/Corbis)

Edward Albee has helped define American theatre with five decades of playwriting. His plays include Zoo Story (1959), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962), and the adaptation of Carson McCullers' novella The Ballad of the Sad Café (1963). Recent works include Peter & Jerry (2007) and Me Myself and I (2010). He has won three Pulitzer Prizes for Drama and a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.

A distinguished actor of stage and screen, Alan Arkin is also a director, composer, and author. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role as John Singer in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968), and he won for Best Supporting Actor in Little Miss Sunshine (2006). Arkin has appeared in other notable films including The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966) and Glengarry Glen Ross (1992).

Virginia Spencer Carr (1929-2012) wrote the biographies The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers (1975) and Dos Passos: A Life (1984), which were both finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Carr was a professor of English at Georgia State University for two decades.

Dana Gioia, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, is an acclaimed poet, critic, and literary anthologist. His third collection of poetry, Interrogations at Noon (2001), won the American Book Award. He has also written collections of essays, including Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture (1992; 2002) and Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture (2004).

Musician Blake Hazard spent most of the 1990s playing in the indie rock band Starhustler before releasing her solo debut album, Little Airplane (2002). With John Dragonetti, Hazard is now part of the duo called the Submarines; their albums include Declare a New State! (2006) and The Love Notes/Letter Bombs (2011). She is the great-granddaughter of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

E. Ethelbert Miller has been the director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University since 1974 and served as a commissioner for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. His poetry collections include Whispers, Secrets and Promises (1998) and How We Sleep on the Nights We Don't Make Love (2004). Miller's memoir is titled Fathering Words: The Making of an African American Writer (2001).

P. J. O'Rourke is a political satirist, journalist, and writer. In 1973 he began an eight-year run as managing editor of humor magazine National Lampoon. His many books include The Bachelor Home Companion (1987), Give War a Chance (1992), Don't Vote--It Just Encourages the Bastards (2010), and Holidays in Heck (2011).

Born in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, actress Mary-Louise Parker made her Tony-nominated debut on Broadway in Prelude to a Kiss (1990). Soon after, Parker began appearing in prominent roles in film and television such as Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), The Client (1994), and The West Wing (2001-06). She received a Tony award for her starring role in the play Proof (2001), an Emmy and Golden Globe for Angels in America (2003), and the 2006 Golden Globe for Best Actress for the Showtime series Weeds.

Gore Vidal (1925-2012) was a best-selling novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and playwright whose writing career spanned more than six decades. His many works include The City and Pillar (1948), Myra Breckinridge (1968) and Duluth (1983). He was a provocative commentator on American history and politics, and his collected essays, United States (1993), won the National Book Award for non-fiction.

Musician Jim White grew up in Pensacola, Florida, and he studied film at New York University. After a series of careers that included cab driver, fashion model, and professional surfer, White first recorded his rootsy yet experimental music for his debut album, Wrong-Eyed Jesus! (1997). His nine albums also include No Such Place (2001) and Where it Hits You (2012).

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