Feature

Novel of the week

The Sorrows of an American by Siri Hustvedt

The Sorrows of an Americanby Siri Hustvedt(Holt, $25)

Set in New York City and “peopled with intellectuals, authors, psychoanalysts, and their patients,” Siri Hustvedt’s latest feels at first like a “precious” imitation of a certain sort of 20th-century novel, said Susan Salter Reynolds in the Los Angeles Times. “Yet the pages turn themselves,” and a reader is soon engaged by a wide cast of characters, each of whom drags with them “ghosts, ancestors, secrets, and stories.” An analyst and his philosopher sister stand at the center of this web, said Tatyana Gershkovich in The Village Voice. Intrigued by dark clues left in the writings of their recently deceased father, they begin investigating half-century-old mysteries while struggling with haunting figures in their own lives. It’s only disappointing that the secrets seem “too ordinary” when they’re finally uncovered. But that disappointment is part of the design, said Ron Charles in The Washington Post. Sorrows is “a radically postmodern novel” distinguished by the degree to which its author is moved by the human struggle to impose the appearance of order on our world. It proved to be “one of the most profound and absorbing books I’ve read in a long time.” 

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