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FRIDAY

Michael Cunningham (pictured), winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize for The Hours, and Andrew Miller, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award winner for Ingenious Pain, both use time as a significant element of their novels. In The Hours, Cunningham braids the life and work of Virginia Woolf with two characters far removed in time and space, but not spirit—a ’40s Los Angeles housewife and a ’90s New York book editor (of course). The theme of this homage is being haunted—by one’s own memories and introspection and by the lives and works of those who lived before. Miller sets Ingenious Pain at a crossroads in time, the mid-18th century, where the mystical past, played by Russia, intersects with the Age of Enlightenment, represented by England. The book’s protagonist, gifted surgeon James Dyer, was born without the capacity to feel physical or emotional pain. But in a race to deliver the future (a smallpox inoculation) to the past (Catherine the Great), the Mr. Spock-ish Dyer encounters a witchy woman who gives him the gift of suffering. (Or is he more like Data, who always wanted feelings? Please, no calls.) The shock lands him in the insane asylum, but enables him to experience the fullness of his humanity. Make time to hear Cunningham and Miller read from and sign copies of their books at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St. SE. $13. For reservations call (202) 544-7077. (Janet Hopf)