A Wild Swan: And Other Tales

Michael Cunningham (Author) Yuko Shimizu (Illustrator)
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Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date
November 10, 2015
6.4 X 0.6 X 8.5 inches | 0.7 pounds

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About the Author

Michael Cunningham is the author of seven novels, including A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize), Specimen Days, and By Nightfall, as well as Land's End: A Walk in Provincetown. He lives in New York. Yuko Shimizu is a Japanese illustrator based in New York, whose work has been featured in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. Her first self-titled monograph was released from Gestalten in 2011; her first children's book illustrations appeared in Barbed Wire Baseball, written by Marissa Moss. Shimizu teaches illustration at the School of Visual Arts.


"Delicious, shivery, sophisticated fairy stories as spat from the pen of a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. 'Most of us are safe, ' Cunningham writes in his astonishing preface. 'If you're not a delirious dream the gods are having, if your beauty doesn't trouble the constellations, nobody's going to cast a spell on you.' But Cunningham will, and does. In a market oversaturated by reworked fairy tales, his are the best." --Katy Waldman, Slate

"[A Wild Swan is] positively delectable. I had no idea Mr. Cunningham had it in him . . . He can't help but write movingly, even as he's setting fire to our most cherished childhood texts. The book is studded with unexpected moments of grace." --Jennifer Senior, The New York Times

Five out of five stars. "While there was darkness in the original tales--blood, butchery and much else--Cunningham's collection brings emotional light and shade where there was none . . . The comedy in these stories works brilliantly, but it does not uncut the tragedy of its lonely and quietly tormented outsiders . . . These tales, short, contemporary, disturbing, and alluring, would make perfect vending-machine fodder: a transporting and enthralling read all the way home." --Arifa Akbar, The Independent

"Michael Cunningham and Yuko Shimizu's A Wild Swan is an enchantment." --Alissa Schappell, Vanity Fair

"[Cunningham] has reimagined, and wickedly modernized, a batch of fairy tales (Yuko Shimizu's illustrations resemble the work of Aubrey Beardsley.) . . . Readers will savor Cunningham's wise, generous musings about (superbly) recognizable types." --Joan Frank, San Francisco Chronicle

"'I dig out beautiful caves behind my characters, '" [Virginia] Woolf wrote in the diary entry Cunningham used as an epigraph to The Hours 'I think that's exactly what I want: humanity, humor, depth.' Cunningham has performed a similar operation on the 10 tales he has selected for transformation . . . For the stories in A Wild Swan, Cunningham has dug out caves of humanity, humor and depth behind some well-known characters." --Christopher Benfey, The New York Times Book Review

"A rollicking and memorable tribute to stories we know.. . . [Cunningham's] prose brings back much of the original swagger and sharpness. . . . [He] is extremely funny and psychologically observant. . . . Beautiful, imaginative illustrations by Yuko Shimizu, complement the stories, spurring the feeling that this is not just a book to read, but also a special object." --The Economist

"Remixing myths and fairy tales in this new collection - beautifully illustrated by Yuko Shimizu - Cunningham stands magic on its head. . . . Cunningham never condescends to his characters. Instead, he inhabits them." --Kit Reed, Miami Herald

"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." --Donna Seaman, Booklist

"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." --Publishers Weekly