A darkly luminous new novel from the Pulitzer Prize winning author of "The Hours"
Michael Cunningham's luminous novel begins with a vision. It's November 2004. Barrett Meeks, having lost love yet again, is walking through Central Park when he is inspired to look up at the sky; there he sees a pale, translucent light that seems to regard him in a distinctly godlike way. Barrett doesn't believe in visions or in God but he can't deny what he's seen.
At the same time, in the not-quite-gentrified Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, Tyler, Barrett's older brother, a struggling musician, is trying and failing to write a wedding song for Beth, his wife-to-be, who is seriously ill. Tyler is determined to write a song that will be not merely a sentimental ballad but an enduring expression of love.
Barrett, haunted by the light, turns unexpectedly to religion. Tyler grows increasingly convinced that only drugs can release his creative powers. Beth tries to face mortality with as much courage as she can summon.
Cunningham follows the Meeks brothers as each travels down a different path in his search for transcendence. In subtle, lucid prose, he demonstrates a profound empathy for his conflicted characters and a singular understanding of what lies at the core of the human soul.
"The Snow Queen," beautiful and heartbreaking, comic and tragic, proves again that Cunningham is one of the great novelists of his generation.
About the Author
MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (which won the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award) and Specimen Days. He lives in New York. Visit him online at www.michaelcunninghamwriter.com.
Praise for The Snow Queen:
“[T]he pursuit of transcendence in all kinds of forms—music, drugs, a McQueen minidress, and those things less tangible but no less powerfully felt—drives Michael Cunningham's best novel in more than a decade, The Snow Queen.” —Megan O'Grady, Vogue
“Like By Nightfall (2010), Cunningham’s elegant and haunting new novel examines the complex dynamics among a couple and a brother. In this configuration, Barrett Meeks, a poetically minded man in his late thirties who has just been dumped by his most recent boyfriend via text message, shares a Brooklyn apartment with Tyler, his older musician-bartender brother, and Beth, Tyler’s great love. Beth and Barrett work in Liz’s vintage shop. She’s 52; her current lover, Andrew, is 28. Beth is undergoing full-throttle treatment for cancer. Tyler is struggling to write the perfect love song for their wedding, and breaking his promise not to do drugs. Barrett, long afflicted by his flitting interest in everything, remains in an altered state after seeing a strangely animated "celestial light" over dark and snowy Central Park. As his characters try to reconcile exalted dreams and crushing reality, Cunningham orchestrates intensifying inner monologues addressing such ephemeral yet essential aspects of life as shifting perspectives, tides of desire and fear, "rampancy" versus "languidness," and revelation and receptivity. Tender, funny, and sorrowful, Cunningham’s beautiful novel is as radiant and shimmering as Barrett’s mysterious light in the sky, gently illuminating the gossamer web of memories, feelings, and hopes that mysteriously connect us to each other as the planet spins its way round and round the sun.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
Praise for By Nightfall
“For pure, elegant, efficient beauty, Cunningham is astounding. He’s developed this captivating narrative voice . . . Half Henry James, half James Joyce, but all Cunningham, it’s an irresistible performance.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post