The Blazing World – A New Take on Deception by Siri Hustvedt

What an amazing concept that Siri Hustvedt exposes in her new best-seller, The Blazing World (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 2014).  As described in The Wall Street Journal, “to expose sexism, a female artist asks three men to be fronts for her work.  The stunt goes terribly awry” (p. C8).  The book has only been released one week, and it is rapidly climbing the list of fiction best-sellers on

Siri Hustvedt PhotoWho is Siri Hustvedt?  She is the author of five novels, The Blindfold, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, What I Loved,and The Summer Without Men.  She also published three collections of essays, A Plea for Eros, Mysteries of the Rectangle: Essays on Painting, and Living, Thinking, Looking, in addition to a nonfiction work: The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves. She is the recipient of the 2012 International Gabarron Prize for Thought and Humanities.

I found this summary of the book on

Blazing World coverWith 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, who has long been celebrated for her “beguiling, lyrical prose” (The Sunday Times Books, London), 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. Emotionally intense, intellectually rigorous, ironic, and playful, Hustvedt’s new novel is a bold, rich masterpiece, one that will be remembered for years to come.

You can read a full review of this book by Clare McHugh, published in The Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2014, p. C8, at this link:    Ms. McHugh is an expert reviewer, currently an editor at Time, Inc.

You won’t see this one at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, because we do not present works of fiction, unless they are business-related.  One example of that we might see is The Circle by Dave Eggers (New York:  Knopf, 2013), as I gave this book to Randy Mayeux for Christmas.  I’m not sure he’s finished it, and it is not on our selection list yet, but we only announce books one month in advance, so we will just wait and see.

Regardless, you might put this one on your escape reading list.  It looks  great!

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