Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “In Sunlight or In Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper” as Want to Read:
In Sunlight or In Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

In Sunlight or In Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,104 ratings  ·  241 reviews
"Edward Hopper is surely the greatest American narrative painter. His work bears special resonance for writers and readers, and yet his paintings never tell a story so much as they invite viewers to find for themselves the untold stories within."

So says Lawrence Block, who has invited seventeen outstanding writers to join him in an unprecedented anthology
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published December 6th 2016 by Pegasus Books (first published December 2016)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about In Sunlight or In Shadow, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Warren Hi there, Laurence.

My understanding is that while there will be a special collector's edition, LB will be the only one signing it. (Of…more
Hi there, Laurence.

My understanding is that while there will be a special collector's edition, LB will be the only one signing it. (Of course, I'll be happy to sign it if you ever run into me -- heck, if you buy it on an e-reader, I'll sign a post-it note you can stick to the screen.)

Warren Moore(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,104 ratings  ·  241 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of In Sunlight or In Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper
Don’t you hate it when you’re hoping for great and get merely pretty good instead?

I was really excited about this going in. Lawrence Block edited a collection of short stories in which each one was based on an Edward Hopper painting, and the writers include some of my favorites like Stephen King, Megan Abbott, and Joe Lansdale as well as many other publishing heavyweights. What’s not to like?

Sadly, this is one where the concept was better than the execution. Block’s intro
Navidad Thélamour
Short stories hold a power that longer works of fiction do not have the advantage of: they can pack a hard punch that'll knock your socks off in mere minutes, spilling uplifting joy, heart-wrenching pain or newly provoked thought from readers all in one fell swoop. This, of course, is because they are so much more concentrated than their longer counterparts, doing away with excess prose and condensing the narrative arc into a matter of pages rather than chapters. For this reason, some of my favo ...more
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Noir, the work of Edward Hopper and to short story fans.
In Sunlight or in Shadow has an intriguing premise. Within you will find short stories based upon the paintings of Edward Hopper. One doesn't need to be familiar with Hopper's work to enjoy this book. Each tale is prefaced with information about the author and an image of the painting on which the story was based. These were my favorites:

SOIR BLEU (based on the painting below) by Robert Olen Butler

I'm a horror fan and this story features a creepy clown. How could I go wrong? The best part of this one was t
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who loves a good story!
5★ Superb!

Oh, how intriguing! If you’ve ever seen any Edward Hopper paintings, you’ll understand how evocative they are – of time, place, situation – a peek at somebody’s private moment where you’re longing to eavesdrop. It's impossible not to wonder about them. Block puts it this way:

“Hopper was neither an illustrator nor a narrative painter. His paintings don’t tell stories. What they do is suggest—powerfully, irresistibly—that there are stories within them, waiting to be told. He shows us a moment in timeway:
Andrew Smith
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Edward Hopper, who’s he? That was my initial reaction on opening up this anthology. But I’d loved the idea of a collection of short stories written by established writers, gathered together by one of my favourite scribes, Lawrence Block. I was soon to find out that Hopper’s paintings have quality that would draw me in. They are voyeuristic views of a lone person in a room or maybe a small disjointed group sitting in a diner or just a view of rooftops from a window. They’re simple but suggestive ...more
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderfully produced book with a totally interesting concept. To quote some of the dust jacket: "In A Beautifully produced anthology as benefits such a collection of acclaimed authors, each story is illustrated with a full color reproduction of the painting that inspired it."

If one is not familure with the paintings of Edward Hopper than this is a great opportunity to become so, without shelling out some big bucks for an art book.

I have to be honest, I was not f
J.K. Grice
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The idea behind this book is superb. A selection of colored plates featuring Edward Hopper paintings are accompanied by the stories they inspired from famous writers. The stories range from noir to the everyday to the supernatural. Some actually seem more like character studies. I loved everything about this book.
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
First off I really liked the idea this book is based on. To whit: a bunch of writers were given a picture painted by Edward Hopper and based a short story around it.

Now Hopper is one of my favorite American artists and has some gorgeous paintings:

The famous Nighthawks:


Room in New York City

Connie G
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Paintings by realist American artist Edward Hopper are the inspiration for this anthology of short stories by 17 different authors. Hopper's paintings show deep contrasts of light and shadows, some near the sea and others in the city. Figures tend to be solitary or uncommunicative couples. They are quiet, introspective, and possibly troubled. While the chosen paintings don't actually tell a story, they invite the viewer (or the short story writer) to imagine what could be happening.

Bri | bribooks
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounded up!

In Sunlight or in Shadow is an intriguing collection of short stories by several authors (well-known and unknown alike), all inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper.

I, admittedly, was not very aware of of Edward Hopper before reading this book. As it turns out, I was familiar with his painting Nighthawks, as I'm sure most folks are. If you're not sure about it, run over to Google and see. I'll wait.

. . . okay, you're back? Cool. While I love that painting, it's not my favorite in the b
Patrick Sherriff
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-and-such, art
I liked this more than it probably deserved. My review is here:
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A collection of 17 short stories based on the paintings of one of my favorite artists, Edward Hopper. These works are very hit and miss for me - some are excellent but quite a few weren't to my taste. I rounded up because I love the idea of this book as a whole.

Since I haven't seen any reviews listing all of the stories in this book, I here is a list to go with the collage of corresponding paintings above:

1) Girlie Show (Girlie Show, 1941) - An unhappy wife discovers who the subject of her husband's nude painting
Charles Finch
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My review from USA Today


This absolutely superb anthology starts out with two advantages: a true legend at the helm, in crime writer Lawrence Block, and a fascinating concept. If you know only one picture by Edward Hopper, it’s likely Nighthawks, his 1942 depiction of the lonely inhabitants of a café late at night. But most of his paintings share its tone of melancholy and mystery, and so do the stories that they’ve inspired in this collection, many of which are set durin
Paula Cappa
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
If you love crime stories, this anthology is quite good. The idea of these famous authors writing stories inspired from Edward Hopper paintings is fabulous and most of the stories are quite satisfying. Best one is Megan Abbott's Girlie Show for storytelling and characterization--loved it! Robert Olen Butler's Soir Bleu is remarkable and spooky and will linger in your mind for days. I couldn't stop reading Rooms by the Sea by Nicholas Christopher. Anthologies are such a treat because you can expe ...more
Cindy Burnett
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
4.5-5 stars

The instant I saw the cover of this book I knew I wanted to read it. In Sunlight or In Shadow is such a clever idea – each writer chosen to participate picked a different painting by Edward Hopper and then created his or her own story about the subject matter of the painting he/she chose. The results are for the most part spectacular. As in any short story collection, some stories are better than others; one or two fell flat enough that I had to just move on without finish
Stewart Tame
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I won an ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. The book is due to be published in early December (it's currently October as I write this.) I confess to a small thrill at the fact--all stories were commissioned for this anthology--that I got a two month lead on the general public reading a brand new Stephen King story.

As the title says, all the stories in this book were inspired by Edward Hopper's paintings. Each story is accompanied by the painting which inspired it, which is nic
Isaac Thorne
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wonderful collection of short tales based on the paintings of Edward Hopper. Lawrence Block has excellently executed the momentous task of collecting and stitching together stories from a variety of authors. They put voice to sixteen of Hopper's works spanning the length of his career.

The great thing about the choice of Edward Hopper as inspiration for these works is that his paintings seem to lend themselves to this kind of interpretive exercise. There are settings, there are figures, and ther
Marcus Hobson
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
What an excellent collection of stories and what an excellent idea too.

This collection contains 18 reproductions of paintings by the great American painter Edward Hopper, and to compliment them there are 17 short stories by some of America's great authors. Included are the likes of Stephen King, Lee Child, Joyce Carol Oates, Jeffery Deaver and Lawrence Block. Each takes a painting as their starting point and then develops their own spell of magic to contour it into a story.
I've never been a big fan of short stories, but recently there seem to be more and more collections and anthologies that catch my interest, as did this book. First, because of the paintings, as I only knew the Nighthawks and a couple other pictures by Hopper and was delighted to get a peek at some of his other work. Second, because of the authors, which include some I know and like very well (Stephen King being my all time favorite), others I'm glad to get to know better (Joyce Carol Oates, Joe ...more
Karen • The Book Return
A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher. This doesn't affect my rating of the book. Read this review and more on my blog.The Book Return BlogI am normally not a short story reader but the premise of the book intruded me. Edward Hopper was an iconic American realist painter. He is known for his paintings that catch an instant of time in everyday life. Often you are left wondering what the stories of the people in the painting are. His ...more
Ronald Koltnow
Apr 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
It is a cliche that every picture tells a story. As a corollary, every good story has a visual dimension, a cinematic quality. IN SUNLIGHT OR IN SHADOW is an anthology of seventeen stories inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper. Hopper's art lends itself to this sort of interpretation -- they feature people with a shadow of regret or dread on their faces and places that look relieved to be left on their own. The paintings are sort of noir as is. The contributors, ranging from an art historia ...more
Feb 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm a huge fan of Hopper's paintings. I've only been privileged enough to see a few originals in museums, but each time I do I'm in awe at the skill and quiet emotion. My own art (photography) has been heavily influenced by Hopper. So, how could I not read a collection that combines some of my favorite authors - Lawrence Block, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Connelly, etc. - and Hopper's work? Unfortunately, it is more meh than wow. Two were big standouts: The Music Room by Stephen Kin ...more
Mount Prospect Public Library
Paintings are both a reflection of story and an invitation to create story. We look at art and think about what is happening, what has happened, and what might happen next. So, it isn’t a far reach to use the creations of a single artist to be the theme for an anthology of short stories, and Edward Hopper provides a wealth of inspiration.

Hopper has been called the painter of American loneliness, which is an evocative enough label, and here his works are catalysts for an impressive list of autho
Richard Newton
Generally mediocre, with a few high spots. The book starts with a nice concept - take an artist's work and a group of authors and get each of them to write a short story from the inspiration from one of the artist's paintings. I started with high hopes, but was soon disappointed. The first few short stories make this feel like a school project more than serious work from experienced authors. There are a few high spots, such as "Taking Care of Business" - but not too many.
Eddie Generous
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mostly good, a couple that flopped. Megan Abbott and Joe Lansdale absolutely killed it. Good narrators as well.
Ann Moody
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read several reviews before posting, and I am not very surprised that they are inconsistent. They would almost have to be. The sheer diversity of storytelling styles in this project means that there is probably something for everyone, but if you like some you may well not like the others. Still I was happy to read them all and in the process learned a few things about myself.

For instance, after some 50 years at this reading game, I finally realized I don't like stories without an ending, and
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommended to James by: Patrick Sherriff
Shelves: non-fiction, art, fiction
Since there have been movies, art and models inspired by Hopper paintings, a collection of shorts is nothing out of the ordinary. Most of these I would classify as suspense or horror but the Gail Levin piece, a fictional retelling about the neighborhood preacher who stole most of Hopper's early work was an eye-opener. One of the stories I had seen in another collection, but the rest were new to me. An interesting read.
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Is there such a genre as noir short stories? If so, this is a collection of them. Some good, some memorable, some forgettable - each taint a specific Hopper painting. Even though there are different authors for each short story, the voice sounds the same to me in each story. No matter, they are - for the most part - enjoyable reads.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing lineup of writers, and what a great introduction for me to more of Hopper's work. Nighthawks has always been a favorite for me, and I greatly enjoyed seeing the others. Might have a visit to the Art Institute in my future
Dec 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5*, hopper is like bacon, he makes everything better
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Highway Kind
  • Deadman's Road
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 2018
  • Lucky at Cards (Hard Case Crime #28)
  • Thieves Fall Out (Hard Case Crime)
  • Рибарят и неговата душа
  • Głosy. Co się zdarzyło na wyspie Jersey
  • In the Company of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon
  • The Two-Bear Mambo (Hap and Leonard, #3)
  • Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult that Bound My Life (True Crime Memoir, Cult Books)
  • Huset med de två tornen
  • Proletkult
  • Port Mungo
  • Mystery Writers of America Presents Vengeance
  • 一瞬の光 [Isshun No Hikari]
  • Venus in India or Love Adventures in Hindustan
  • 小熊
  • 桜風堂ものがたり
See similar books…
Lawrence Block has been writing crime, mystery, and suspense fiction for more than half a century. He has published in excess (oh, wretched excess!) of 100 books, and no end of short stories.

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., LB attended Antioch College, but left before completing his studies; school authorities advised him that they felt he’d be happier elsewhere, and he thought this was remarkab
“Hopper was neither an illustrator nor a narrative painter. His paintings don’t tell stories. What they do is suggest—powerfully, irresistibly—that there are stories within them, waiting to be told. He shows us a moment in time, arrayed on a canvas; there’s clearly a past and a future, but it’s our task to find it for ourselves.” 1 likes
More quotes…