NATIONAL BESTELLER • An “exquisite” (The Boston Globe) exploration of love and loss, the struggles and limitations of family life—and how we all must learn to live together and apart—from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hours
“The only problem with Michael Cunningham’s prose is that it ruins you for mere mortals’ work. He is the most elegant writer in America.”—The Washington Post
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS’ CHOICE • A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, Harper’s Bazaar, Chicago Public Library, Lit Hub, Paste, Kirkus Reviews
April 5, 2019: In a cozy brownstone in Brooklyn, the veneer of domestic bliss is beginning to crack. Dan and Isabel, husband and wife, are slowly drifting apart—and both, it seems, are a little bit in love with Isabel’s younger brother, Robbie. Robbie, wayward soul of the family, who still lives in the attic loft; Robbie, who, trying to get over his most recent boyfriend, is living vicariously through a glamorous avatar online; Robbie, who now has to move out of the house—and whose departure threatens to break the family apart. And then there is Nathan, age ten, taking his first uncertain steps toward independence, while his sister, Violet, five, does her best not to notice the growing rift between her parents.
April 5, 2020: As the world goes into lockdown, the cozy brownstone is starting to feel more like a prison. Violet is terrified of leaving the windows open, obsessed with keeping her family safe. Isabel and Dan communicate mostly in veiled sleights and frustrated sighs. And dear Robbie is stranded in Iceland, alone in a mountain cabin with nothing but his thoughts—and his secret Instagram life—for company.
April 5, 2021: Emerging from the worst of the crisis, the family reckons with a new, very different reality—and with what they’ve learned, what they’ve lost, and how they might go on.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Michael Cunningham, best-selling author of The Hours, has a knack for writing quiet fiction that pierces the heart. Day is the story of adult siblings Isabel and Robbie, told over the course of one day in 2019, 2020, and 2021. When we first meet them, Robbie’s looking to move out of the top floor of Isabel’s Brooklyn home so his niece and nephew can have more space, and Isabel is reckoning with the growing distance between her and her devoted husband, Dan. In some ways, this is a pandemic novel, exploring how COVID-19 rattled routines and shattered our emotional equilibrium, but it’s really so much more. With the precision of a surgeon and the empathy of a humanist, Cunningham marvels in his messy characters’ thoughts and actions—and reflects back the undeniable truth that grief is an intrinsic element of love.
Pulitzer winner Cunningham (The Hours) meditates on love and loss in this intimate portrait of a New York City family impacted by Covid-19. The story begins in April 2019, with Isabel Walker, a magazine photo editor, falling out of love with her partner Dan Byrne, a former rock musician turned "househusband." A year later, Isabel and Dan's 10-year-old daughter, Violet, already affected by her parents' acrimony, is intensely anxious over the virus. Isabel's beloved brother, Robbie, provides a stabilizing influence from afar via Instagram, where he posts as Wolfe, the "adult incarnation" of the imaginary older brother he and Isabel made up as children. Although Cunningham evokes the pandemic only indirectly, such as with references to Violet's remote learning, its impact on everyone is palpably conveyed, especially in a poignant, grief-filled final section set in April 2021. Cunningham's characters drive the story's slender plot, and all of them are magnificently developed, with even the basest episodes, like Dan succumbing to the temptation of a hit of cocaine, revealing depths of thought and feeling. What could have been a somber mood piece tinged with tragedy is buoyed by the author's focus on "the promise that resides under the forlorn surfaces." This stands out from the growing shelf of pandemic novels by managing to feel timeless.
Enveloping me, devouring me with comforts of mind and heart, an intimate, raw and fanciful escape I knew I needed but did not have any idea where I could possibly get it.
Brilliant, internal, intimate, and painfully real, as are all of Michael’s stories. Highly recommend.