The Sorrows of an American: Book summary and reviews of The Sorrows of an American by Siri Hustvedt

The Sorrows of an American

By Siri Hustvedt

The Sorrows of an American
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2008,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

When Erik Davidsen and his sister, Inga, find a disturbing note from an unknown woman among their dead father’s papers, they believe he may be implicated in a mysterious death. The Sorrows of an American tells the story of the Davidsen family as brother and sister uncover its secrets and unbandage its wounds in the year following their father’s funeral.

Returning to New York from Minnesota, the grieving siblings continue to pursue the mystery behind the note. While Erik’s fascination with his new tenants and emotional vulnerability to his psychiatric patients threaten to overwhelm him, Inga is confronted by a hostile journalist who seems to know a secret connected to her dead husband, a famous novelist. As each new mystery unfolds, Erik begins to inhabit his emotionally hidden father’s history and to glimpse how his impoverished childhood, the Depression, and the war shaped his relationship with his children, while Inga must confront the reality of her husband’s double life.

A novel about fathers and children, listening and deafness, recognition and blindness; the pain of speaking and the pain of keeping silent, the ambiguities of memory, loneliness, illness, and recovery. Siri Hustvedt’s exquisitely moving prose reveals one family’s hidden sorrows through an extraordinary mosaic of secrets and stories that reflect the fragmented nature of identity itself.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"She's already written one great novel, and she'll undoubtedly write more. Here, she stuffs too much material into a narrative that buckles under the weight of too many ideas insufficiently developed. Ambitious, moving and sometimes maddening - but never, ever dull." - Kirkus Reviews.

"Complex relationships, indeed, but the narrative is breathtakingly clear, heartfelt, and involving. Hustvedt (What I Loved, 2003) has written a novel of quiet strength; recommended for most collections." - Library Journal.

"Starred Review. Hustvedt gives great breaths of authenticity to Erik's counseling practice, life in Minnesota and Miranda's Jamaican heritage, and the anticlimax she creates is calming and justified; there's a terrific real-world twist revealed in the acknowledgments." - Publishers Weekly.

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Author Information

Siri Hustvedt Author Biography

Siri Hustvedt is the author of the novels, The Blindfold, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, What I Loved, The Summer Without Men and The Blazing World; as well as three collections of essays, A Plea for Eros, Mysteries of the Rectangle: Essays on Painting, and Living, Thinking, Looking; as well as the nonfiction work: The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves. What I Loved and The Summer Without Men were international bestsellers. Her work has been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Femina Etranger in France, and she is the recipient of the 2012 International Gabarron Prize for Thought and Humanities. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Paul Auster.

Author Interview
Link to Siri Hustvedt's Website

Name Pronunciation
Siri Hustvedt: se-ree hoost-ved

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