Claire Messud Live Reading and ConversationTuesday, January 19, 2021 @ 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Streamed on City of Asylum’s Virtual Channel. (Run-time 60 min)
In her fiction, Claire Messud “has specialized in creating unusual female characters with ferocious, imaginative inner lives” (NY Times Magazine). Her new collection, Kant’s Little Prussian Head and Other Reasons Why I Write, opens a window on Messud’s own life. Featuring twenty-six intimate, brilliant, and funny essays shed light on a nomadic childhood; a warm, complicated family; and, throughout it all, a devotion to art and literature. Claire Messud will read excerpts from her new collection and will be joined in conversation with Pittsburgh-based essayist Sarah Menkedick.
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 contemporary classics from Kazuo Ishiguro, Teju Cole, Rachel Cusk, and Valeria Luiselli; examines three facets of Albert Camus and The Stranger; and tours her favorite paintings at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. In the luminous title essay, she explores her drive to write, born of the magic of sharing language and the transformative powers of “a single successful sentence.”
Together, these essays show the inner workings of a dazzling literary mind. 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).
Claire Messud is a recipient of Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Author of six works of fiction including her most recent novel, The Burning Girl, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her family.
Sarah Menkedick’s writing has been featured in Harper’s, Pacific Standard, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Kenyon Review, Oxford American, The Guardian, The Paris Review Daily, Aeon, Guernica, Buzzfeed, Amazon’s Kindle Singles, and elsewhere. She writes a column for Longreads on the craft of nonfiction. She was a 2015-2016 Fulbright fellow in Oaxaca, Mexico, and a 2019 Creative Nonfiction Writing Fellow in Pittsburgh, PA.