Anthony Pilkington’s powerful strike separated the sides at half-time, but Shaun Maloney’s superb equaliser brought Wigan back into the game early in the second period.
However, after great work down the left by Pilkington, the impressive Hoolahan, who prior to kick-off penned a contract extension keeping him at Norwich until summer 2015, headed the winner from close range to give the Canaries a deserved three points.
The win extended City’s unbeaten run to 10 Premier League games, their longest sequence without defeat in the top-flight since March 1987.
After a cagey opening, the game sprang into life thanks to Pilkington’s goal.
Hoolahan, who was fantastic throughout, quickly intercepted the ball, and laid a pass through for Pilkington, who smashed the ball past Ali Al Habsi into the roof of the net.
The goal acted as a wake-up call for Wigan, who had started poorly. Neat interplay between Arouna Kone and James McArthur resulted in the Scotsman bringing a smart save from Mark Bunn down to his left.
Al Habsi, who will be disappointed not to have saved the first goal, again looked shaky, as he could only palm a cross into the path of Pilkington, who could not convert.
However, the Latics keeper more than made up for his earlier errors, with a fantastic instinctive save from point-black range to deny Robert Snodgrass from a Javier Garrido cross.
Two changes at half-time from Roberto Martinez made a huge difference to Wigan, and it was one of those substitutes – Maloney – who superbly brought the visitors back into the game early in the second period.
Kone looked to have run out of options, but calmly found Maloney on the edge of the 18-yard box and he rifled the ball past a helpless Bunn.
Wigan could not maintain their pressure, and Grant Holt should have done better with a volley to put Norwich back in front, before Hoolahan netted what turned out to be the winner from six yards, getting on the end of an excellent Pilkington centre.
Pilkington himself could have added to his tally late on, bringing a one-handed save out of Al Habsi, but Norwich held on for a deserved victory, and kept their incredible run going.