With the female contingent of the shop away at last week’s Women of the World Festival, it seemed appropriate that our first author spotlight be on a fiercely gifted lady. Each month a different staff member will be posting a profile of one of their all-time favourite writers, giving you a chance to familiarise yourself with their work.
Siri Hustvedt has five novels, two essay collections, a book of poetry and several nonfiction works under her belt- and yet somehow, at age 60, has remained one of literature’s best kept secrets. Hustvedt’s work is often characterised by intensive psychological studies, exploring the boundaries between male and female, love and betrayal, sanity and madness.
From her debut novel, The Blindfold, her ability for blending genres into unpredictable metafictions evident, and has only become more refined as her career has progressed. With the epic What I Loved, she excels in developing her characters through the recreation of their scholarly milieu, only to show with devastating effect that their intellectual pretensions are no defence against human tragedy. And in her latest, The Blazing World, she blurs the lines between reality and fiction to create one of the more dizzyingly clever and bitingly angry novels in recent memory.
It’s sometimes said that Hustvedt’s writing is excessively brainy, but when it comes to books that are smart, insightful, and immensely rewarding, Hustvedt’s up there with Margaret Atwood and Zadie Smith. Take a look at our picks for her five best books (if any of them take your fancy, you can click on the links to our online store!):
- “The Blazing World:” Following Harriet Burden, an ageing and underappreciated artist, Hustvedt’s Man Booker longlisted novel infuses a classic thriller with intellectual rigour.
- “What I Loved:” Chronicling the lifelong friendship between two men, Hustvedt creates an indelible portrait of New York in the latter part of the twentieth century.
- “A Plea for Eros:” Hustvedt’s collection of essays scrutinises love, gender and origin, with her piece on September 11 a profoundly moving highlight.
- “The Summer Without Men:” In rare comedic mode, this slender novel showcases Hustvedt’s ability to examine femininity and sisterhood in a way that is refreshingly devoid of cliché.
- “The Blindfold:” In her debut novel, Hustvedt pieces together a fractured narrative and composes a terrifying study of psychological unrest.
Keep an eye on the blog for recommendations from our other staff members! -Myles