“The Hours” Writer Michael Cunningham Reunites with Julianne Moore for New Audiobook: 'How Cool' (Exclusive)

Moore, who starred in the 2002 adaptation of Cunningham's ‘The Hours,’ “begged to be considered” to narrate the audiobook of the writer's new novel ‘Day’

<p>ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images;  Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images</p> Julianne Moore and Michael Cunningham

ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images; Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Julianne Moore and Michael Cunningham

Michael Cunningham has no idea how Julianne Moore got an advance copy of his new novel Day, but he’s glad she did.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, 71, tells PEOPLE he’s thrilled that Moore, who starred in the 2002 adaptation of his book The Hours, is narrating the audiobook version of Day. “How cool is that?” he says.

Though Cunningham says he and Moore, 62, "see each other every now and then," he was not the one to get her on board.

“I don't really know the particulars, but she saw a copy of the novel and volunteered to read it,” he continues. “I haven't spoken to her yet. I really don't know how she got a copy, but she did.”

After learning of her involvement, Cunningham says he sent her an email that read, “Maybe we do something together about once every 25 years, I think. I look forward to our next collaboration 25 years from now.”

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Asked how her involvement came about, Moore tells PEOPLE in a statement, “I am a massive fan of Michael Cunningham’s work, and when I heard that his new book Day was coming out, I begged to be considered for the audio version.”

“I was in heaven recording his dense and elegant prose; I’m in awe of his talent, his ability to convey so much emotion in a single challenging  sentence. The book is so deeply felt, and magical,” she adds.

Day follows an extended family on a single day — April 5 — in each of three years: 2019, 2020 and 2021.

<p>Penguin Randomhouse</p> 'Day' by Michael Cunningham

Penguin Randomhouse

'Day' by Michael Cunningham

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Robbie, a 38-year-old New York City teacher lives in a Brooklyn apartment owned by his sister, photo editor Isabel and her husband Dan, a musician–turned–stay-at-home dad. They live just below Robbie with their two young children, Nathan and Violet.

In need of more room for her family, Isabel has asked Robbie, who is adrift after breaking up with his boyfriend, to find his own place, which he is reluctant to do.

Dan’s irresponsible artist brother Garth and Chess, the mother of his young son Odin, also play a role in the events that unfold.

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The words coronavirus or COVID-19 don’t appear anywhere in the book, but the pandemic looms large for the book’s fragile characters.

“I felt like, how could you write a contemporary novel without the pandemic? It would be like setting a novel in London in World War II without mentioning the Blitz,” says Cunningham, who lives in New York with his husband, psychoanalyst Ken Corbett.

Not naming the virus by name was “intentional,” he continues. “I just feel like something terrible that goes unnamed, even though we all know what it is, is somehow made more terrible.”

Cunningham had been working on a different novel altogether when the pandemic hit. He decided to shelve that project and start from scratch with an all new story.

Robbie, Isabel and Dan “were characters who had been on my mind for a while,” says Cunningham. “They're not from the novel that was interrupted and put away, but I've been thinking about them. They are very, very loosely based on some people I know.”

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In the novel, Isabel has a strong affection for her younger brother Robbie. Dan has deep feelings for him, too, in a way neither Dan nor Robbie can seem to explain.

<p>Victor Boyko/Getty </p> Julianne Moore in September

Victor Boyko/Getty

Julianne Moore in September

“I've been thinking for a long time about a situation in which a couple, a man and a woman, are both kind of in love with a gay man. Not — I hasten to add — in any way that's actually sexual,” he says. “It's all about having, right there in front of you, a person who is absolutely unavailable.”

Day is the first novel Cunningham — whose previous works include Flesh and Blood, A Home at the End of the World, Specimen Days, The Hours and The Snow Queen — has published in nearly 10 years.

The writer says he is happy to be back: “It’s about time.”

Day is available Nov. 14 wherever books are sold.

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