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About the book
  • Published: 14 June 2001
  • ISBN: 9780141183695
  • Imprint: Peng. Mod. Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160
  • RRP: $19.99

The Ballad Of The Sad Cafe


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Few writers have expressed loneliness, the need for human understanding and the search for love with such power and poetic sensibility as the American writer Carson McCullers, and The Ballad of the Sad Café collects her best-loved novella together with six short stories, published in Penguin Modern Classics.
Miss Amelia Evans, tall, strong and nobody's fool, runs a small-town store. Except for a disastrous marriage that lasted just ten days, she has always lived alone. Then Cousin Lymon appears from nowhere, a strutting hunchback who steals Miss Amelia's heart. Together they transform the store into a lively, popular café where the locals come to drink and gossip. But when her rejected and dangerous ex-husband Marvin Macy returns, the result is a bizarre love triangle that brings with it violence, hatred and betrayal. Among other fine works, the collection also includes 'Wunderkind', McCullers's first published story written when she was only seventeen, about a musical prodigy who suddenly realizes she will not go on to become a great pianist.
Carson McCullers (1917-1967) was the critically acclaimed author of several popular novels in the 1940s and '50s, including The Member of the Wedding (1946), adapted for the stage in the 1950s and filmed in 1952 and 1997. Her novels frequently depicted life in small towns of the southeastern United States and were marked by themes of loneliness and spiritual isolation. Other films based on her books are Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967, with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando), The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968, starring Alan Arkin) and The Ballad of the Sad Café (1991, starring Vanessa Redgrave).
If you enjoyed The Ballad of the Sad Café, you might like McCullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
'Unexpectedly moving, grimly amusing, intensely atmospheric'
The Times
'The work she has accomplished is note eclipsed by time but further illuminated'
Tennessee Williams

  • Pub date: 14 June 2001
  • ISBN: 9780141183695
  • Imprint: Peng. Mod. Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Carson McCullers

Carson McCullers was born at Columbus, Georgia, in 1917. She was always a delicate person and as a young adult she began to suffer from strokes, and by the age of thirty-one she was paralysed down her left side. For a while she could only use one finger to type, and for years before her death could not sit at a desk to work. In 1938 she married James Reeves McCullers, a corporal in the US army. The marriage was not a success and they divorced. They did, however, keep in touch and subsequently remarried, separating finally in 1953; he later committed suicide.
She was established as a writer by the time she reached her twenties but it was not until she published The Heart is a Lonely Hunter at the age of twenty-three, that she won widespread recognition. Her other works include Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941), The Member of the Wedding (1946; winner of the 1950 New York Critics Award, also staged as a play in London), The Ballad of the Sad Café (1951), The Square Root of Wonderful (1958), a play, Clock Without Hands (1961), Sweet as a Pickle, Clean as a Pig (1964) and The Mortgaged Heart (published posthumously in 1972). She was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1942-3 and again in 1946, and received an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1945; she was also a Fellow of the Academy. She lived in Nyack, New York, until her death in 1967.
Graham Greene wrote of her: 'Miss McCullers and perhaps Mr Faulkner are the only writers since the death of D. H. Lawrence with an original poetic sensibility. I prefer Miss McCullers to Mr Faulkner because she writes more clearly; I prefer her to D. H. Lawrence because she has no message.'

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