"The only difference was one of them was trying to make a perfect cake and one of them was trying to write a great book. But if we remove that from the equation, it's the same impulse and they are equally entitled to their ecstasies and their despair." -- Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham (born November 6, 1952) is an American writer, best known for his 1998 novel The Hours, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999.
"Before there was any talk of a movie, people would sometimes ask me what actors I would imagine playing these characters. And the only thing I could ever say is: I have such a clear idea of these characters that they'd have to play themselves.""If you've really loved a book, or a movie for that matter, really loved it, what you want is that same book again, but as if you've never read it. And when you get something unfamiliar, you feel betrayed."
Cunningham was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in Pasadena, California. He studied English literature at Stanford University where he earned his degree. Later at the University of Iowa he received a Michener Fellowship and was awarded a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. While studying at Iowa, he had short stories published in the Atlantic Monthly and the Paris Review. His story "White Angel," from his novel A Home at the End of the World was included in "The Best American Short Stories, 1989," published by Houghton Mifflin.
In 1993 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and in 1998 a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. In 1995 he was awarded the Whiting Writers' Award. Cunningham has taught at the Fine Arts Work Center inProvincetown, Massachusetts and in the creative writing MFA program at Brooklyn College. He is currently professor of creative writing at Yale University.
Although Cunningham is gay and has been in a monogamous partner for 18 years with psychoanalyst and artist Ken Corbett, he dislikes being referred to as only a "gay writer", according to a PlanetOut article PlanetOut Entertainment because while being gay does greatly influence his work, he feels that it is not (and should not be) his defining characteristic.
The Hours established Cunningham as a major force in American writing, and his most recent novel, Specimen Days, was also well received by American critics. Cunningham has edited a book of poetry and prose by Walt Whitman, Laws for Creations, and has co-written, with Susan Minot, a screenplay adapted from Minot's novel Evening. He is also a producer for the 2007 film, Evening, which stars Glenn Close, Toni Collette, and Meryl Streep.