Claire Messud biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Claire Messud
Photo © Derek Shapton

Claire Messud

Claire Messud Biography

Claire Messud’s first novel, When the World Was Steady, and her book of novellas, The Hunters, were finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award; her second novel, The Last Life, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and an Editor’s Choice at The Village Voice. All three books were New York Times Notable Books of the Year. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Radcliffe Fellowship, and is the current recipient of the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.



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Interview

Claire Messud discusses what inspired her to write The Emperor's Children and why she chooses to write about people who are "interesting" rather than nice.

Q: In The Emperor's Children, the introduction of a few outsiders into the world of the main characters drastically alters the lives of everyone. What were their lives like before the appearance of Bootie and Ludovic Seeley on the scene?

Well, Marina had been living at home for the better part of a year, trying to get her book finished; and Julius and Danielle were living pretty much as they had done for some time, each in their apartment. But the three of them spent a lot of time together – more time than they do once the book is underway -- in the way very close, old friends do when they are single and childless.

Q: The first chapter is called "Our Chef is Very Famous in London", which gets to the heart of things that a reputation one place may not carry to another. What made you decide to start the book with that?

Danielle – like Marina and Julius also, albeit in slightly different ways – is very much a New Yorker. Her whole sense of the world, post-college, has been focused entirely on New York. I wanted to begin the novel in a rare moment, for her, in which she has some perspective on her own life, some sense of its provincialism. All our lives are provincial, no ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Claire Messud at BookBrowse
The Burning Girl jacket The Woman Upstairs jacket The Emperor's Children jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Claire Messud but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Chloe Aridjis

    Chloe Aridjis

    Chloe Aridjis was born in New York and grew up in the Netherlands and Mexico. She received her PhD in nineteenth-century French poetry and magic shows from Oxford, then lived in Berlin for five years. Her first novel, Book of... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Woman Upstairs

    Try:
    Asunder
    by Chloe Aridjis

  • T.C. Boyle

    T.C. Boyle

    Growing up, T. Coraghessan Boyle did not aspire to be a writer. He attended State University of New York as a music student but ended up as a history and English major. He says, "I went there to be a music major but ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Emperor's Children

    Try:
    Drop City
    by T.C. Boyle

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Editor's Choice

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    On the island of Medio, a wall separates the wealthy elite from those less fortunate who lack the ...
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    If you are looking for an indulgent, escapist fantasy, Black Leopard, Red Wolf may not be for you. ...
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    That Time I Loved You
    by Carianne Leung
    Carrianne Leung was a Toronto Book Award finalist for That Time I Loved You as well as for her debut...
  • Book Jacket: The Pianist from Syria
    The Pianist from Syria
    by Aeham Ahmad
    Aeham Ahmad became famous as the face of Syrian suffering when a photo of him playing piano in the ...

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    A little-known story of WWII with great resonance for our times.
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Book Club
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An extraordinary and heart-rending tale of two girls with all the odds against them.

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