After publishing five novels, including two international bestsellers, Siri Hustvedt
is best known as a writer of fiction. But according to Salley Vickers of the Observer
, "She is even more to be admired as an essayist (in this regard I feel that she resembles Virginia Woolf)." Fluent in the concepts and the language of psychology, neuroscience, the visual arts, and many other fields, Hustvedt is a world-class polymath. So it came as no surprise that her new novel is as intellectually provocative as it is emotionally moving. Yet The Blazing World
was still a revelation.
Told in a patchwork of journal entries, personal reminiscences, interviews, and transcripts, all compiled after her death, The Blazing World tells from competing perspectives the story of middle-aged artist Harriet (Harry) Burden, who conducts an experiment in which three male artists agree to show her work and claim it as their own. The work is received well, but when Harry steps up to reveal the ruse, things get interesting. And complicated. While the setup sounds like a revealing intellectual exercise, what makes The Blazing World such a triumph is Hustvedt's extraordinary ability to generate emotional momentum as she reveals, bit by bit, the complexity and power of these relationships, the psychological depth of her characters, and the transformative capacities of art.
To further illustrate art's transformative abilities, we've included a set of seven postcards, each replicating one illustrated page from the forthcoming title from Tin House Books, Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself. Taking for his muse Walt Whitman's poetic masterwork, "Song of Myself," artist Allen Crawford transformed the 60-page poem into an extended work of art, with words and images blending together into a single imaginative vision.
Also included is an advance reader's edition of one of the most remarkable debut novels we've read in recent years, We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas. We're excited to give you a first look at this incredibly assured, moving, and quietly heartbreaking novel, due to be published in September. Joshua Ferris expressed our feelings precisely: "It's humbling and heartening to read a book this good." We hope you enjoy it.