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Publisher's Summary

Carson McCullers was all of 23 when she published her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. She became an overnight literary sensation, and soon such authors as Tennessee Williams were calling her "the greatest prose writer that the South [has] produced." The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter tells an unforgettable tale of moral isolation in a small southern mill town in the 1930s.

Richard Wright was astonished by McCullers's ability "to rise above the pressures of her environment and embrace white and black humanity in one sweep of apprehension and tenderness." Hers is a humanity that touches all who come to her work, whether for the first time or, as so many do, time and time again. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is Carson McCullers at her most compassionate, most enduring best.

©1940, 1967 Carson Smith McCullers (P)2004 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Finalist, Classics, 2005

"A remarkable book...[McCullers writes] with a sweep and certainty that are overwhelming." (The New York Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 03-15-15

Beautiful Prose and Perfect Narration

This is a much overlooked classic with excellent prose and deeply interesting characters. There is little external story, instead the internal stories of the characters, all misfits, all dreamers, all lovers, are juxtaposed and explored. The narration is perfect with superb pacing, expressing each characters’ internal dialogs distinctly and with emotion.

I loved this book, and particularly liked this audible addition. I finished it in one day, and will happy listen to this again.

Some of the reviews describe this as book as depressing. The book demonstrates the essential importance of not allowing your dreams to slip away, thus I found it uplifting, in its own way.

This book is not for everyone as there is virtually no action or story.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Connie
  • new york, NY, United States
  • 06-26-06

Cherry Jones - 10

Wow, Cherry Jones really made this so much more interesting than the story itself. I've always bought Broadway tickets if her name was on the marquee, now I will look for any other Audio Books that she has narrated. Great, great, job.

As far as the book goes -- I am truly impressed that a twenty-three year old could write such character detail.

22 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Brenda
  • Mountain View, CA, USA
  • 08-28-04

Exquisite narration

Great novel and an interesting story. The characters are very well defined, in which the narration was key in making it a success. There wasn't much mystery or page-turning anticipation to this book, yet it was a great story with strong characters.
This was the first full book I have listened to and it convinced me to invest in a year subscription. I love being able to listen intensely while keeping my hands busy with hobbies or housework and not tiring my eyes. I highly reccommend this audible choice. I also recommend listening to the audio sample of any book prior to downloading, for the narrator can make a significant difference in holding your attention. Great job.

38 of 41 people found this review helpful

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  • Barbara
  • Marietta, GA, United States
  • 06-08-05

Do yourself a favor

and read this book. I saw the movie almost 30 years ago and was impressed but never realized the scope and depth of the original novel. The gushy praise of the Audible edition by users on the Audible Yahoogroup teased me into downloading it, and even then I put off listening for a while, thinking that "literature" might very well mean BORING. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Cherry Jones does a fantastic job of delivering the narrative, and the story is phenomenal; moving, acerbic, provocative, painful and compelling. There aren't many books worthy of this kind of praise, and fewer still have been so skillfully rendered in audio editions. GO FOR IT!

37 of 40 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Briliantly narrated literary gem

Don't let the "Audible Kids" opening mislead you, despite the fact this title has some "growing up novel" aspects, it's a must read.
Carson McCullers described the human nature and human motivations, through the story of 4 main protagonists struggling in a small town in the south (1930's).
The characters portrayed feel alone in their inner worlds, aspirations, and fears - crave for some understanding - all expose their deepest feelings only to Singer, the deaf mute protagonist, who is unable to reach back to his hearing friends, and feels isolated, being unable to convey his thoughts to those who can't read sign languague.
I should note - that writing down ideas of racial equality, socialism (Marxism), and the need of social reform - in a novel published in 1940, was very brave, notable and ahead of it's time. The discussion of Nazi Germany before all facts were known is very impressive in retrospect.

What can i say -touching, very well written, captivating and highly recommended.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Well-drawn characters

The characters in this book were well-drawn, and I think the author got to their core. The narration helped in that regard as each character had his or her own subtle voice.

This is the story of many lonely people who wanted more and were denied. Each life intertwined with the deaf-mute, Mr. Singer, who was ultimately the loneliest in his prison of silence. It's not a book to listen to if you are feeling down, but well worth hearing for the characters and their points of view.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • Long Beach, CA, United States
  • 05-04-07

Great performance

Cherry Jones really captured these characters for me. It reminded me of Julie Harris' great performance in the film of McCullers' Member of the Wedding. I was really engaged by the story, and Ms. Jones' reading added a dimension that I wouldn't have experienced if I had been reading it myself. Thank you.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great Book - Fantastic Narration

Five or so years before she received a well-deserved Best Actress Emmy for her work on 24, Cherry Jones narrated this wonderful piece of American fiction. Her interpretation of all the characters is incredible. One really gets a sense of the emotion of each person portrayed, and, very importantly, in a manner that reflects the time. One note to prospective readers would be to recognize that much of the content is in subtext and various hints rather than overt statements.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Alan J
  • bremerton , WA, USA
  • 10-31-04

LIked This one

I've never read Carson McCullers but I'd heard of her from reading biographies of other writers from the South, like Capote, Faulkner, and Flannery O'Connor. After finishing this audio I understand why she's in their league. The characters in this book remain with the reader long after the book is finished. If you're expecting a page turner then forget this one. This is a literary novel. It has peaks and valleys. Finish this audio and you'll come away with a better understanding of how humans are connected to one another and why and how they interact. After each chapter I had to keep reminding myself Carson McCullers was just 24 when she wrote this. Incidently, I thought the Narrator did an excellent job. I've enjoyed lots of books since I joined Audio last year, and this narrator I'd place at the top. This was a pleasurable listen and another reason why I think the United State's best writers are from the South.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent Narration

Sometimes with listening books it's the narration that can make or break your enjoyment of the novel. Cherry Jones does the most incredible job with this narration - she really brings the characters to life and her accent really captures the setting of the novel. I would happily listen to any other novels that she narrates. The development of the characters is fantastic and offers a slice of life from this era. Very enjoyable!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Dr.A.P.Berlin
  • 07-03-16

One of the best books of 20th C - beats mocking bird

Book is beautiful- not just extraordinary as with by a woman in her early twenties - but prescient in issue of race relations and moving beyond words. The central character of the mute Singer and the theme of projections is masterly

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Helen
  • 05-04-10

A classic

I read this because it's one of those books that is on so many 'all time great classics' lists and I wasn't disappointed.
A fascinating look at race and how it plays out in everyday life in the life of one young girl.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-14-17

Emotional and gripping.

The was in which McCullers is able to develop a variety of characters within the novels adds a depth to this heart wrenching tale.

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  • Gabrielle
  • 10-02-17

Brilliant story, brilliantly told

I loved this and will listen again. A story about the human condition, class, race, politics wrapped in a perfect tale of individual lives.

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  • Rebecca
  • 08-09-17

long and boring

I can't say I enjoyed this audio and at times it just became my background noise without feeling I was missing much.