The Big Read Blog (Archive)

A Prism of Stories Collide

Washington, DC

Actor Alan Arkin holding his copy of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. Image courtesy of Dan Stone

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter tells the story of four principal characters---a black doctor, a labor agitator, a restaurant owner, and a young girl---from multiple points of view. These characters share a common obsession with the fifth central character, a deaf-mute named John Singer. Singer is a rare figure in the landscape of American fiction. Has there ever been a deaf protagonist featured in a major American novel? Though Singer?s disability is outwardly clear to the reader, the other characters in the novel suffer from their own less obvious disabilities, which are often spiritual or psychological. Musicians Jim White and Blake Hazard, actor Alan Arkin, and writer Gore Vidal, who knew Carson McCullers personally in the late 1940s, comment. Actress Mary-Louise Parker reads from the book and former NEA Chair Dana Gioia hosts.

[audio:http://bigreadblog.arts.gov//audio/HunterPrism.mp3]

[transcript]

To hear the entire McCullers audio guide, go to The Big Read website.

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