HomeReadalong for ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’

Join us in June as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Carson McCullers’ first novel. 

The Heart is a Lonely HunterSeventy-five years ago, a 23-year-old girl from Columbus, Georgia, created a literary sensation with the publication of her debut novel. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter rose to the top of bestseller lists in 1940 and has since been ranked by The Modern Library as 17th among the 100 Best English-Language Novels of the 20th Century.

McCullers’ memorable characters include deaf mutes and friends John Singer and Spiros Antonapoulos, Mick Kelly, a tomboyish girl who loves music (said to be based on McCullers herself), alcoholic Jake Blount, diner owner Bill Brannon and black physician Dr. Benedict Mady Copeland.

These characters reside in an isolated 1930s mill town in Georgia, where McCullers managed to depict humanity and compassion at such a young age. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter had Tennessee Williams calling her “the greatest prose writer that the South [has] produced” and Richard Wright was astonished by her ability “to rise above the pressures of her environment and embrace white and black humanity in one sweep of apprehension and tenderness.”

With such high praise, it’s no wonder that this Southern classic has stood the test of time. Throughout the month of June we’ll be honoring The Heart is a Lonely Hunter with a readalong, Twitter chat and special editorial pieces by Cerith Mathias. Get more details on how to participate below and prepare to reread this novel or read it for the first time as part of your summer plans.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter Readalong: The book is divided into three parts, so we’ll be structuring our readalong that way. Reading for Part One will be from June 1-10, Part Two from June 11-20 and Part Three from June 21-30. At the end of each reading period, we’ll post notes and thoughts about the section for discussion.

Get notes for part one here.

Get notes for part two here.

Get the notes for part three here.

Twitter Chat: Our chat for the book was held Tuesday, June 30, with co-host Cerith Mathias. Read the discussion by following the hashtag #LonelyHunterDSM.

Additional materials: Read an interview with Azar Nafisi, whose new novel The Republic of Imagination: A Case for Fiction examines The Heart is a Lonely Hunter as a classic she finds to be quintessentially American.