“A superb collection…Krauss’s depictions of the nuances of sex and love, intimacy and dependence, call to mind the work of Natalia Ginzburg in their psychological profundity, their intellectual rigor…Krauss’s stories capture characters at moments in their lives when they’re hungry for experience and open to possibilities, and that openness extends to the stories themselves: narratives too urgent and alive for neat plotlines, simplistic resolutions or easy answers.” (New York Times Book Review)
“From a contemporary master, an astounding collection of ten globetrotting stories, each one a powerful dissection of the thorny connections between men and women…Each story is masterfully crafted and deeply contemplative, barreling toward a shimmering, inevitable conclusion, proving once again that Krauss is one of our most formidable talents in fiction.” (Esquire)
In one of her strongest works of fiction yet, Nicole Krauss plunges fearlessly into the struggle to understand what it is to be a man and what it is to be a woman, and the arising tensions that have existed from the very beginning of time. Set in our contemporary moment, and moving across the globe from Switzerland, Japan, and New York City to Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, and South America, the stories in To Be a Man feature male characters as fathers, lovers, friends, children, seducers, and even a lost husband who may never have been a husband at all.
The way these stories mirror one other and resonate is beautiful, with a balance so finely tuned that the book almost feels like a novel. Echoes ring through stages of life: aging parents and new-born babies; young women’s coming of age and the newfound, somewhat bewildering sexual power that accompanies it; generational gaps and unexpected deliveries of strange new leases on life; mystery and wonder at a life lived or a future waiting to unfold. To Be a Man illuminates with a fierce, unwavering light the forces driving human existence: sex, power, violence, passion, self-discovery, growing older. Profound, poignant, and brilliant, Krauss’s stories are at once startling and deeply moving, but always revealing of all-too-human weakness and strength.
About the Author
Nicole Krauss is the author of the novels Forest Dark, Great House, The History of Love, and Man Walks Into a Room. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, and The Best American Short Stories, and her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages. She is currently the inaugural writer-in-residence at Columbia University’s Mind, Brain, and Behavior Institute. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“Krauss imbues her prose with authoritative intensity. In short, her work feels lived…The strange urgency of Krauss’s art…continues to haunt a reader’s mind and heart.”
— Washington Post
"These stories put Krauss's lyric, precise prose--and, more importantly, her inquisitive and unsparing mind--on full display...The title story is at once moving and pitiless. It is a daring story even in the context of a daring collection, and it proves wholly that aesthetic simplicity has not reduced the scope of Krauss's intellectual and creative powers at all."
“A sustained shot of brilliance…By turns tight and exuberant, disciplined and expansive, the collection shimmers with insight and moments of perfectly realized beauty. It provokes unabashed laughter, in inspires profound thinking, it delights and disturbs in equal measure… Joy and woe are woven fine in this extraordinary book.”
— Boston Globe
"Nicole Krauss, one of the great novelists working today, has never shied away from asking the big questions. But as her powerful new collection of short stories shows, her power lies not simply in her own ability to interrogate life — but in the way she calls on her readers to do the same.”
— Financial Times
"TO BE A MAN offers the pleasure of being in the company of Krauss' surprising, challenging mind, tugged along by an imagination that's ever curious about the limits and possibilities of fiction, of time, and of love...A collection of wonders."
— San Francisco Chronicle
"In To Be a Man, Krauss’s short fiction proves as elegantly crafted as her novels, brimming with penetrating understanding of the complex dynamics of modern families, and characters whose struggles with difficult truths ultimately challenge and enrich the reader’s own world."
— Jewish Book Council
“What defines a life well-lived?...Krauss winningly explores these and other weighty issues in a home run of a short story collection…Above all, these stories pay homage to strong women. As female characters mature, they find resilience in the power they wield despite societal constraints.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“This triumphant first collection from Nicole Krauss crisscrosses the globe in 10 ambitious stories written over two decades that wrestle with sexuality, desire, and human connection…. This is a spectacular book.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Krauss’s first story collection succinctly but brilliantly examines sex, power, violence, passion, self-discovery and growing older through unforgettable characters in contemporary New York City, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Geneva, Kyoto, Japan and Southern California… Krauss is incredibly adept at portraying novel-worthy characters in this much shorter form.”
— Pure Wow
“This collection of stories from Krauss is a wonder, with the author’s signature straddling of the tragic and the absurd, her particularly Jewish frame of reference, and the extraordinary range of her narrative voice…A tremendous collection from an immensely talented writer.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)