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 work she has accomplished is note eclipsed by time but further illuminated'