For today’s ‘Jewish Book Week’ author spotlight, we will be highlighting author Nicole Krauss!
Krauss was born on August 18, 1974, to a British Jewish mother and an American Jewish father. She began writing as a teenager and published some poetry. Krauss attended Stanford University where she received a bachelor’s in English. She received a master’s in art history from the Courtauld Institute in London soon after.
In 1999, Krauss made a documentary on the work of Joseph Brodsky, a Russian poet whom she had bonded with in college. The satisfaction she received from working on and completing a longer-form project inspired her to write her first novel.
In 2002, Krauss’s first novel, Man Walks Into A Room, was published. Krauss was married to author Johnathan Safran Foer for ten years, starting in 2004. They had two children together.
In 2010, she was on The New Yorker’s “Twenty Under Forty” list. Her books have been translated into over 30 languages. In 2020, Krauss was the first Writer-in-Residence at the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute at Columbia University. The residency “gives one writer per year time and support for creative pursuit, forges formal and informal interactions with scientists, and promotes engagement across the Institute and the surrounding community”, according to the institute’s website.
In 2021, Krauss was awarded the Inspiration Award For Fiction by the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. In February 2022, she won the Wingate prize for her essay collection To Be A Man.
Overall, her use of storytelling and willingness to deeply explore taboo subjects makes Nicole Krauss an author to look out for.
The History of Love tells the story of Leo Gursky, a polish-jew searching for his son, and a girl named Alma searching for a cure for her widowed mother’s loneliness. The book was a 2006 finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction and won the 2008 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing for fiction.
An antique desk connects the stories of many: an American novelist, a man that discovers his wife’s terrible secret, and an antique dealer in Jerusalem. It is a story about loss, inheritance, and seeing the meaning in the mundane. Jewish-related topics such as the holocaust, the Yom-Kipper War, and biblical references are woven throughout. Great House is a New York Times Bestseller, a Finalist for the National Book Award 2010, Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and a ‘Best Book of the Year’ as chosen by the New York Times.
To Be A Man is Krauss’ first short story collection. The collection explores gender roles and relationship tensions and compares relationships from all different sides of the world. As usual with Krauss’s work, the book is not inherently and explicitly Jewish, but Jewish themes and characters are seen throughout. To Be A Man has been featured on many notable lists such as Oprah Magazine’s 20 Best Books of 2020, Time Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2020, and Esquire’s Best Books 2020. The collection also won the Wingate Literary Prize in 2022.
For the rest of our Jewish Book Week series, click here!