It is hard to believe that The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter was the first book of a twenty-three-year-old author (who had started the novel at nineteen!). This tragic, small-town drama is so ambitious in its scope—presenting five radically different characters whose troubled lives intersect in the Depression-era South—it always seems like the work of a master storyteller.
The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literary reading in American popular culture. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004 NEA report, identified a critical decline in reading for pleasure among American adults. The Big Read addresses this issue by bringing communities together to read, discuss, and celebrate books and writers from American and world literature.
A great book combines enlightenment with enchantment. It awakens our imagination and enlarges our humanity. It can even offer harrowing insights that somehow console and comfort us. Whether you're a regular reader already or making up for lost time, thank you for joining The Big Read.
Carson McCullers, 1955 (Bettmann/Corbis)
Actress Marilyn Monroe (left) watches as Danish author Isak Dinesen examines a manuscript at the New York home of Carson McCullers (far right). (Bettmann/Corbis)
Chatsworth, Georgia (Courtesy Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia Collection)