The Blazing World – Siri Hustvedt

The Blazing World - Siri Hustvedt

The Blazing World – Siri Hustvedt

I have read The Summer without Men and The Sorrows of an American – loved the first and was not so taken with the second. I was keen to read this new novel sort of like a tie breaker.

Here is the blurb …

With The Blazing World, internationally best­selling author Siri Hustvedt returns to the New York art world in her most masterful and urgent novel since What I Loved. Hustvedt tells the provocative story of the artist Harriet Burden. After years of watching her work ignored or dismissed by critics, Burden conducts an experiment she calls Maskings: she presents her own art behind three male masks, concealing her female identity.
The three solo shows are successful, but when Burden finally steps forward triumphantly to reveal herself as the artist behind the exhibitions, there are critics who doubt her. The public scandal turns on the final exhibition, initially shown as the work of acclaimed artist Rune, who denies Burden’s role in its creation. What no one doubts, however, is that the two artists were intensely involved with each other. As Burden’s journals reveal, she and Rune found themselves locked in a charged and dangerous game that ended with the man’s bizarre death.
Ingeniously presented as a collection of texts compiled after Burden’s death, The Blazing World unfolds from multiple perspectives. The exuberant Burden speaks—in all her joy and fury—through extracts from her own notebooks, while critics, fans, family members, and others offer their own conflicting opinions of who she was, and where the truth lies.
From one of the most ambitious and interna­tionally renowned writers of her generation, The Blazing World is a polyphonic tour de force. An intricately conceived, diabolical puzzle, it explores the deceptive powers of prejudice, money, fame, and desire.

As you can tell from the blurb, there is a lot going on in this novel. Multiple points of view, multiple literary styles, stuff on gender, art, love, loyalty, parenting, creativity and I am sure there is more that I have forgotten. It is very complicated and literary, but eminently readable. I am in awe of Ms Hustvedt’s ability to plan and construct something so intricate and yet to make it seem easy. This novel is for people who enjoy reading – it is not a light or fluffy escapist read. Having said that, it is not hard to read, but there are many threads and it does require concentration on the part of the reader.

So this makes two of her novels that I like and one that I don’t. I will definitely read another.

More reviews …

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