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The Sorrows of an American

Siri Hustvedt

21 Reviews

Rated 0

Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

The dazzling novel by the author of the international bestseller, WHAT I LOVED, about the secrets and ghosts that haunt families from one generation to the next.

After their father's funeral, Erik and Inga Davidsen find a cryptic letter from an unknown woman among his papers, dating from his adolescence in rural Minnesota during the Depression. Returning to his psychiatric practice in New York, Erik sets about reading his father's memoir, hoping to discover the man he never fully understood.
At the same time, another woman enters Erik's lonely, divorced life - a beautiful Jamaican who moves into his garden flat with her small daughter. As Erik gets drawn into the cat-and-mouse tactics of someone who appears to be stalking her, he finds out that his sister Inga is also being threatened, by a journalist in possession of a wounding secret from her past.
A multi-layered novel that probes the mysteries of the heart and mind, THE SORROWS OF AN AMERICAN is a compulsive, thought-provoking and profoundly affecting novel that resonates long beyond the last page.

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Praise for The Sorrows of an American

  • Beautifully thought through, deeply serious and enormously intelligent - Guardian - Jane Smiley

  • This satisfying and emotionally rich follow-up to Ms Hustvedt's acclaimed WHAT I LOVED treads some similar themes: love and loss; the limits of perception; the drama of dreams; and the need to craft coherent stories from the unreliable fragments of memory. As with her previous novel, Ms Hustvedt's cerebral characters are tenderly drawn, wise and realistic . . . a beautifully sincere examination of the grim traps of over-active minds - Economist

  • A novel of d

  • This novel is easily described as wonderful . . . THE SORROWS OF AN AMERICAN feels like a very personal story and is all the more intimate for it . . . her skill lies in convincing the reader that we have seen right inside someone's soul - Observer - Viv Groskop

  • For all its cerebral riches, this novel is composed with superb artistry, Hustvedt handles the numerous interlocking narratives with immense skill. . . It is proof of Hustvedt's talent that the terrors of this novel feel real - Literary Review

  • This passionately conceived, coolly delivered work is almost certainly the best American novel you will read all year . . . not to be missed - Sunday Telegraph - Melissa Katsoulis

  • A mystery story that develops into a subtle and complex novel . . . sharp, confident, tolerant and civilised - Sunday Times - Tom Deveson

  • A writer of high intelligence, profound sensuality and a less easily definable capacity for which the only word I can find is wisdom. - Salman Rushdie on WHAT I LOVED

  • A love story with the grip and suspense of a thriller. It makes you ponder human existence with a peculiar mixture of stoicism and wonder - Times Literary Supplement on WHAT I LOVED

  • It is a rare writer who can both rouse the mind and grip the heart, and all the while provide the sensuous delights of image and language. In her new novel, as in WHAT I LOVED, Siri Hustvedt does that and more . . . a book that's almost impossible to put down, and even harder not to re-read - Lisa Appignanesi, Independent

  • Full of humour, surprise and powerful images - Observer on THE ENCHANTMENT OF LILY DAHL

  • This satisfying and emotionally rich follow-up to Ms Hustvedt's acclaimed WHAT I LOVED treads some similar themes: love and loss; the limits of perception; the drama of dreams; and the need to craft coherent stories from the unreliable fragments of memory. As with her previous novel, Ms Hustvedt's cerebral characters are tenderly drawn, wise and realistic . . . a beautifully sincere examination of the grim traps o

  • This passionately conceived, coolly delivered work is almost certainly the best American novel you will read all year . . . not to be missed - Melissa Katsoulis, Sunday Telegraph

  • A mystery story that develops into a subtle and complex novel . . . sharp, confident, tolerant and civilised - Tom Deveson, Sunday Times

  • This satisfying and emotionally rich follow-up to Ms Hustvedt's acclaimed WHAT I LO

  • Substantial, moving and beautifully written - Independent on Sunday on WHAT I LOVED

  • Brilliant . . . a dark, mesmerising debut - Independent on Sunday on THE BLINDFOLD

  • This novel is easily described as wonderful . . . THE SORROWS OF AN AMERICAN feels like a very personal story and is all the more intimate for it . . . her skill lies in convincing the reader that we have seen right inside someone's soul - Viv Groskop, Observer

  • A big, wide, sensuous novel - clever, sinister, yet attractively real - Julie Myerson, Guardian on WHAT I LOVED

  • Beautifully thought through, deeply serious and enormously intelligent - Jane Smiley, Guardian

  • For all its cerebral riches, this novel is composed with superb artistry, Hustvedt handles the numerous interlocking narratives with immense skill. . . It is proof of Hustvedt's talent that the terrors of this novel feel real - John de Falbe, Literary Review

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Siri Hustvedt

Siri Hustvedt's first novel, The Blindfold, was published by Sceptre in 1993. Since then she has published The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, What I Loved, The Sorrows of an American, The Summer Without Men and The Blazing World, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2014 and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. She is also the author of the poetry collection Reading To You, and four collections of essays -Yonder, Mysteries of the Rectangle: Essays on Painting, A Plea for Eros and Living, Thinking, Looking, as well as the memoir The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves.

Born in Minnesota, Siri Hustvedt now lives in Brooklyn, New York. She has a PhD in English from Columbia University and in 2012 was awarded the International Gabarron Prize for Thought and Humanities.
She delivered the Schelling Lecture in Aesthetics in Munich in 2010, the Freud Lecture in Vienna in 2011 and the opening keynote at the conference to mark Kierkegaard's 200th anniversary in Copenhagen in 2013, while her latest honorary doctorate is from the University of Gutenburg in Germany. She is also Lecturer in Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and has written on art for the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph and several exhibition catalogues.