The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
by Carson McCullers
This is a beautiful, devastating novel that explores loneliness and poverty. It starts quietly and builds to an angry climax. I can’t quite fully believe that Carson McCullers was only 23 when she wrote this.
Set in a small mill town in 1930s Georgia, the plot revolves around John Singer, a deaf man who touches the lives of several others. He has a job at a jeweller, is educated (including knowing sign language) and serenely gets on with his life. After his deaf friend and room mate Spiros Antonapoulos is taken away to an asylum, some of the town’s more disaffected residents begin to notice Singer, turning to him as a confidante.
This group includes Mick Kelly, a tomboyish teen girl who is developing a deep love for music, though her family can’t afford for her to pursue this love beyond listening to other people’s radios. She tries to describe music to Singer in a way that is so moving that it doesn’t seem strange.