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Michael Cunningham (1)

Author of The Hours

For other authors named Michael Cunningham, see the disambiguation page.

33+ Works 21,468 Members 486 Reviews 66 Favorited

About the Author

Michael Cunningham was born November 6, 1952 in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in Pasadena, California. He received a B.A. in English literature from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Iowa. Cunningham is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993 and a show more Whiting Writers' Award in 1995. In 1999, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award for his novel, The Hours, which was later made into an Oscar-winning 2002 movie of the same name starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore. Cunningham taught at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts and in the creative writing M.F.A. program at Brooklyn College. He is a senior lecturer of creative writing at Yale University. show less

Works by Michael Cunningham

Associated Works

Death in Venice (1902) — Introduction, some editions — 5,304 copies
The Voyage Out (1915) — Introduction, some editions — 2,682 copies
The Future Dictionary of America (2004) — Contributor — 626 copies
The Pilgrim Hawk (1940) — Introduction, some editions — 465 copies
The Mrs Dalloway Reader (2003) — Contributor — 424 copies
The Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories (1994) — Contributor — 315 copies
The Hours [2002 film] (2002) — Novel — 270 copies
The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to their Younger Selves (2012) — Contributor — 260 copies


1001 (91) 1001 books (102) 20th century (141) AIDS (111) American (203) American fiction (80) American literature (254) contemporary (83) contemporary fiction (139) depression (84) family (94) fiction (2,846) first edition (68) gay (196) historical fiction (131) homosexuality (61) lgbt (99) literary fiction (76) literature (222) mental illness (96) Michael Cunningham (70) Mrs. Dalloway (103) New York (175) New York City (82) novel (437) own (118) Pulitzer (160) Pulitzer Prize (233) queer (66) read (260) relationships (86) science fiction (69) short stories (65) signed (76) suicide (167) to-read (841) unread (137) USA (118) Virginia Woolf (380) women (154)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Cunningham, Michael
Legal name
Cunningham, Michael
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Places of residence
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
La Cañada, California, USA
Stanford University (BA)
University of Iowa (MFA)
Awards and honors
Michener Fellowship (1982)
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1988)
Guggenheim Fellowship (1993)
Whiting Writers' Award (1995)
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1999)
PEN/Faulkner Award (1999)
Short biography
Michael Cunningham (1):

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1999)

PEN/Faulkner Award (1999)

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Book Award (1999)



I have just finished binge watching One Day on Netflix, the story of a boy and a girl who meet on the 15th of July as they finish university and then follows them on that day every year for the next 10 to 12 years. It's a great structure made for a series. A film was made many years ago but it wasn't very good. And so, this book is structured in a similar way where we meet a family on the 5th of April 2019 and then on 2020 and 2021 so this book takes in the Covid pandemic, a before, during and after if you like and is an exploration of one family during these times. A true pandemic novel.

This is an extended family with Lisa , Dan her partner, Robbie who is Lisa's brother and Lisa and Dan's children Nathan and Violet. Then there are Chess and Garth, Dan's brother, and their baby Odin. With all of these people, Robbie is the lynch pin, someone everyone loves and who makes the world go round by understanding everyone as an individual. It all seems to go horribly wrong when Robbie is asked to move out of the family home because Nathan needs his own bedroom and the only space is in the attic where Robbie is living. In truth the marriage of Dan and Lisa is stuttering before this but it seems to be a catalyst. Robbie then travels to Iceland and gets stuck there during the lockdown in a cabin, miles away from anywhere on his own.

This is not a book about what was going on in the outside world but one that focuses on the internal worlds of the family as it breaks down and why. Robbie and Lisa create a third sibling, the brother they never had, and make an instagram account for him and post to it regularly with images and ideas 'borrowed' from around the internet. He is a 30ish years old man named Wolfe (I have read that there are strong connections between Cunningham and Woolfe), a paediatrician, stylish with his life 'together' and probably someone both Lisa and Robbie want to fall in love with. I found this part of the novel the hardest to get to grips with why it was included.

Disappointment in mid-life looms large but there is always Violet, the daughter who 'sees' things and understands way more than her six years might lead us to expect. She is her own person in her yellow dress that her mother keeps telling her is a difficult colour to wear, as if that matters, and one who has to be obeyed. With the parents engaged in distancing themselves from each other, neither has the time or inclination to talk to their children, to relieve their anxieties or even to check up on what is really going on. Lockdowns were a time of great stress even when things were fine but for anyone who was in a less than wonderful situation, you were trapped.

I'm not entirely sure what the message of this book is and the role that the pandemic plays in it. There is no happy ending just a glimmer of hope so this book could be classed as a tragedy. It is extremely well-written, the sentences just flow but what is it saying? Something about parents and parenting under stress?
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allthegoodbooks | 14 other reviews | Feb 18, 2024 |
A literary fiction novel about a family on April 5 before Covid-19, the spring during the Covid-19 lockdown, and right after the world starts opening back up.

I struggled with caring for the family on this one. The only one I really cared about was the little girl, and even she didn’t seem like she would be real to me.

This is the first book of Michael Cunningham’s that I’ve read and I’m not saying he can’t write. In fact, he wrote these days in such detail, I felt like I was really watching the family while I read them. But, it was just something that was missing for me to actually care about the characters.

Maybe it’s still weird for me to read books about the pandemic quite yet.

This book wasn’t 100% for me, but it’s still good. And I feel like those who like reading about family dynamics and such will greatly enjoy this.

*Thank you Random House and NetGalley for an advance digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
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oldandnewbooksmell | 14 other reviews | Jan 31, 2024 |
I wanted to like this novel more than I did. Three days, across 3 years April 5 2019/2020/2021 – carrying forward a little of his fascination with Virginia Woolf perhaps. A brother and sister, husband, 2 other friends, 3 children, and a virtual friend: pre/during/at the end of the pandemic. Of the three parts, I think I warmed to the third most. I was left wanting to know more about what might have happened to the children as adults. I have a suspicion that moments may return to my memory, but for me the adult characters didn’t give me enough, maybe that was the point. The world we live in can leave us wanting more from each other than perhaps how we function within it can allow. These were very much characters of now, all flawed, all wanting things that were not quite what the others wanted. None of them satisfied. Perhaps that was it. There was no contentment at all here. Everything was unfulfilled.… (more)
Caroline_McElwee | 14 other reviews | Jan 31, 2024 |
Day is divided into three parts, each taking place on April 5 in successive years - 2019, 2020, and 2021. It's a novel of family - siblinghood, parenthood, childhood - but this is a unique kind of modern family, formed both by nature and by choice. This is also sort of a COVID novel, but it's not about that; rather, the virus is an agent for change and transformation - a disruptor for a situation that was already headed towards instability.

The beauty of this novel is its interiority - we experience these lives, this family, from several points of view through interior monologues and only limited direct dialogue. Cunningham's prose is poetic in parts - I want to say luminescent, too - it illuminates truths but from a kind of distance. I felt like I was watching a play, at times. A very powerful and compelling one, but one in which I never lost my sense of being separate, sitting in an audience. This could be somewhat intentional - the truth that one can never fully know or experience another's reality but can still recognize and internalize universal truths. It's a beautiful book.

4.5 stars

NB: I listened to this on audio, narrated by the actress Julianne Moore. Her strong, quiet voice is a perfect fit for the story.
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4 vote
katiekrug | 14 other reviews | Jan 22, 2024 |


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