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A Wild Swan

Hardcover : 144 pages
Published by Farrar,
Straus & Giroux

Nov, 2015

Read an excerpt in the New York Times
Read an excerpt in the New Yorker

•  Fairy tales for our times from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hours

A poisoned apple and a monkey's paw with the power to change fate; a girl whose extraordinarily long hair causes catastrophe; a man with one human arm and one swan's wing; and a house deep in the forest, constructed of gumdrops and gingerbread, vanilla frosting and boiled sugar. In A Wild Swan and Other Tales, the people and the talismans of lands far, far away—the mythic figures of our childhoods and the source of so much of our wonder—are transformed by Michael Cunningham into stories of sublime revelation.

Here are the moments that our fairy tales forgot or deliberately concealed: the years after a spell is broken, the rapturous instant of a miracle unexpectedly realized, or the fate of a prince only half cured of a curse. The Beast stands ahead of you in line at the convenience store, buying smokes and a Slim Jim, his devouring smile aimed at the cashier. A malformed little man with a knack for minor acts of wizardry goes to disastrous lengths to procure a child. A loutish and lazy Jack prefers living in his mother's basement to getting a job, until the day he trades a cow for a handful of magic beans.

Reimagined by one of the most gifted storytellers of his generation, and exquisitely illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, rarely have our bedtime stories been this dark, this perverse, or this true.

Illustration by © Yuko Shimizu





Reviews for A Wild Swan:
Donna Seaman, Booklist:
“The original tales are timeless for good reasons, and by approaching them from a fresh and astute perspective with humor and compassion, Cunningham revitalizes their profound resonance. Imaginatively illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, this is a dazzling twenty-first-century fairy-tale collection of creative verve and keen enchantment. Cunningham’s high stature and the book’s irresistible premise will attract lively media attention and reader curiosity.”

Publishers Weekly:
“The latest from Cunningham (The Snow Queen) offers elegant, sardonic retellings of 10 iconic fairy tales . . . Cunningham’s tales enlarge rather than reduce the haunting mystery of their originals. Striking black-and-white images from illustrator Shimizu add a fitting visual counterpoint to a collection at once dark and delightful.”