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By Nightfall       Hardcover : 256 pages
Published by Farrar,
Straus & Giroux

October, 2010
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By Nightfall

Paperback : 256 pages
Published by Picador
August, 2011

Peter and Rebecca Harris: mid-forties denizens of Manhattan's Soho, nearing the apogee of committed careers in the arts--he a dealer, she an editor. With a spacious loft, a college-age daughter in Boston, and lively friends, they are admirable, enviable contemporary urbanites with every reason, it seems, to be happy.

Then Rebecca's much younger look-alike brother Ethan (known in the family as Mizzy, "the mistake") shows up for a visit. A beautiful, beguiling twenty-three-year-old with a history of drug problems, Mizzy is wayward, at loose ends, looking for direction. And in his presence, Peter finds himself questioning his artists, their work, his career--the entire world he has so carefully constructed.

Like his legendary, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Hours, Michael Cunningham's masterly new novel is a heart-breaking look at the way we live now. Full of shocks and aftershocks, it makes us think and feel deeply about the uses and meaning of beauty and the place of love in our lives.

Video: Michael Cunningham and James Franco Discuss Their Books:
Part I, Part II, Part III

   »   Read an Excerpt
   »   Get the Reading Group Guide [pdf]

Reviews for By Nightfall:
The New Yorker:
“The novel is less a snapshot of the way we live now than a consideration of the timeless consolations of love and art in the shadow of death, and its resolution—inevitable yet startling, like the slap of a wave—is a triumph.”

The Washington Post:
“Rather witty and a little outrageous . . . for pure, elegant, efficient beauty, Cunningham is astounding. He’s developed this captivating narrative voice that mingles his own sharp commentary with Peter’s mock-heroic despair. Half Henry James, half James Joyce, but all Cunningham, it’s an irresistible performance, cerebral and campy, marked by stabbing moments of self-doubt immediately undercut by theatrical asides and humorous quips. . . a cerebral, quirky reflection on the allure of phantom ideals and even, ultimately, on what a traditional marriage needs to survive.”

Jeanette Winterson, The New York Times Book Review:
“[Cunningham] makes you turn the pages. He tells a story here, but not too much a story. You aren’t deadened by detail; you’re eager to know what happens next.”

Miami Herald:
“Where art and humanity converge and where they part form a double helix in By Nightfall and account for the novel’s most considered and lovely prose. Cunningham’s observations of our desperate search for the real fill and break the heart.”

Boston Globe:
“So many of Cunningham’s physical descriptions read like confident prose poems, where you imagine what’s left between the lines . . . As a testament to the richness of the literary imagination, By Nightfall is a success. You can’t read this novel without the sense of how worlds can be found in a drop of water, or in an offhand comment, or in the curve of a vase. . . By Nightfall is a meditation on beauty, and it has its own indelible qualities of beauty.”

The Seattle Times:
“Beauty, in its infinite variety and its power to transfix and seduce and delude, is a central theme of By Nightfall, the latest from the author of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel The Hours. Add the mysteries and fears of aging and mortality to the agenda, and you have echoes here of Oscar Wilde and Thomas Mann . . . the attentive reader is rewarded with a wise and exhilarating epiphany at the end.”

San Francisco Chronicle:
“Cunningham can really write. And so he transforms a set of predictable elements into an unpredictable and engrossing read. By Nightfall is an exemplar of the crossover megahit that authors of all genders and genres dream of: an entertaining page-turner that’s bound for, and deserving of, literary eternity . . . There’s nothing minor about Cunningham’s heart, or his talent. By Nightfall deserves every superlative it has summoned.”

“[Cunningham’s] vigorous explorations of art and its meaning—along with a thick veil of eroticism—keep the pages turning.”

Entertainment Weekly:
“There are sentences here so powerfully precise and beautiful that they almost hover above the page.”