By Michael Cunningham
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374172893, 230pp.)
Publication Date: November 1998
A daring, deeply affecting third novel by the author of A Home at the End of the World and Flesh and Blood.
In The Hours, Michael Cunningham, widely praised as one of the most gifted writers of his generation, draws inventively on the life and work of Virginia Woolf to tell the story of a group of contemporary characters struggling with the conflicting claims of love and inheritance, hope and despair. The narrative of Woolf's last days before her suicide early in World War II counterpoints the fictional stories of Samuel, a famous poet whose life has been shadowed by his talented and troubled mother, and his lifelong friend Clarissa, who strives to forge a balanced and rewarding life in spite of the demands of friends, lovers, and family.
Passionate, profound, and deeply moving, this is Cunningham's most remarkable achievement to date. The Hours is the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Michael Cunningham was raised in Los Angeles and lives in New York City. He is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World (Picador) and Flesh and Blood. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and Best American Short Stories, and he is the recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award. The Hours was a New York Times Bestseller, and was chosen as a Best Book of 1998 by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Publishers Weekly.
- Clarissa Vaughan is described as an ordinary woman. Do you accept this valuation? If so, what does it imply about being ordinary? What makes someone, by contrast, extraordinary?
"The overall impression is that of a delicate, triumphant glance, an acknowledgement of Woolf that takes her into Cunningham's own territory, a place of late-century danger but also of treasurable hours." --Michael Wood, The New York Times Book Review
"An exquisitely written, kaleidoscopic work that anchors a floating postmodern world on pre-modern caissons of love, grief and transcendent longing." --Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"[Cunningham] has deftly created something original, a trio of richly interwoven tales that alternate with one another chapter by chapter, each of them entering the thoughts of a character as she moves through the small details of a day . . . Cunningham's emulation of such a revered writer as Woolf is courageous, and this is his most mature and masterful work." --Jameson Currier, The Washington Post Book World
"The triumph of The Hours is that it somehow manages to be both artful and sincere, striking nary a false note . . . And the triumph of the book is no less the triumph of its author. Just when it seemed that it was no longer permissible to pay respect to the literature of the past, Cunningham has done so with an undeniable skill and depth of feeling." --Justin Cronin, Philadelphia Inquirer
"Rich and beautifully nuanced scenes follow one upon the other . . . [a] gargantuan accomplishment." --Publishers Weekly (starred, boxed review)