How to pronounce Siri Hustvedt: se-ree hoost-ved
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.
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Siri Hustvedt discusses the fragmentary nature of The Blazing World, and issues of gender perception, feminism and the art world.
How did you come up with the idea for this novel?
I have been immersed in questions about human perception for a long time, including how works of art are received in the culture. Pseudonyms have also been a longstanding interest of mine, especially Søren Kierkegaard's use of them in his work. By adopting various pseudonyms, the philosopher explored points of view he didn't necessarily share but which nevertheless fascinated him. I knew I wanted to write a story about a woman artist who hides behind three male masks, but it was Harry herself who became the burning catalyst for the book. Once I began to hear her voice, see her, and feel her, I found the heart of the novel. And yet, I did not want the book to belong only to Harry. She is an explosive character, and her view had to be tempered and framed by other perspectives. I knew that an unstable, polyphonic form was the only one that could embody the book's themes as a whole.
While this is a work of fiction, you present it as a true collection of writings on the subject. Why did you decide to present the story in this form?
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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