The transformative experience of a “single successful sentence” is one of the many reasons why Claire Messud is driven to tell stories. In her evocative new essay collection, Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write, she sorts through those reasons like old photos in a keepbox.
Daniel Mendelsohn from the New York Review of Books moderated.
Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write
By Claire Messud
Published by W.W. Norton & Company
In twenty-nine intimate, brilliant, funny, and sharp essays, Messud reflects on a childhood move from her Connecticut home to Australia; the complex relationship between her modern Canadian mother and a fiercely single French Catholic aunt; and a trip to Beirut, where her pied-noir father had once lived, while he was dying. She meditates on Albert Camus, Teju Cole, and Valeria Luiselli, and tours her favorite paintings at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Crafting a vivid portrait of a life in celebration of the power of literature, Messud proves once again “an absolute master storyteller” (Rebecca Carroll, Los Angeles Times).
By Anne Enright
Published by W. W. Norton & Company
Bringing to life two generations of women with difficult sexual histories, both assaulted and silenced, both finding–or failing to find–their powers of recovery, Actress touches a raw and timely nerve. With virtuosic storytelling and in prose at turns lyrical and knife-sharp, Enright takes readers to the heart of the maddening yet tender love that binds a mother and daughter..