Siri Hustvedt presents "Mothers, Fathers, and Others" with Sophie Auster & Rachel DeWoskin

December 9, 2021, 7:30 PM

Siri Hustvedt joins us to present her new book Mothers, Fathers, and Others, in conversation with her daughter, the musician Sophie Auster, and the author Rachel DeWoskin. This virtual event will take place on Zoom. Register here:

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Feminist philosophy meets family memoir in this new essay collection from Siri Hustvedt, an exploration of the shifting borders that define human experience, including boundaries we usually take for granted—between ourselves and others, nature and nurture, viewer and artwork—which turn out to be far less stable than we imagine.

Described as “a 21st-century Virginia Woolf” in the Literary Review (UK), Man Booker longlisted Hustvedt displays her expansive intellect and interdisciplinary knowledge in this collection that moves effortlessly between stories of her mother, grandmother, and daughter to artistic mothers, Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, and Lousie Bourgeois, to the broader meanings of maternal in a culture shaped by misogyny and fantasies of paternal authority. Mothers, Fathers, and Others is a polymath’s journey into urgent questions about familial love and hate, human prejudice and cruelty, and the transformative power of art.

This moving, fierce, and often funny book is finally about the fact that being alive means being in states of constant, dynamic exchange with what is around us, and that the impulse to draw hard and fast conceptual borders where none exist carries serious theoretical and political dangers.

Siri Hustvedt, a novelist and scholar, has a PhD in English literature and is a lecturer in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. She is the author of a book of poems, seven novels, four collections of essays, and two works of nonfiction. She has published papers in various academic and scientific journals and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Princess of Asturias Award for Literature, the European Charles Veillon Essay Prize, an American Academy of the Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction for The Blazing World, which was also longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo credit: Spencer Ostrander)

Sophie Auster is a musician. Her latest EP, History Happens at Night, dropped November 1st (BMG). Auster’s music is replete with fantasy and escapism, a sonic fusion of bluesy folk-pop with cabaret dramatics reminiscent of Lana Del Rey and Sara Bareilles. Auster has carved out a unique path for herself as a songwriter, receiving several awards abroad and at home like the John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Auster is the daughter of authors Siri Hustvedt and Paul Auster.

Rachel DeWoskin is the award-winning author of five novels: Someday We Will Fly (Penguin Random House, 2019); Banshee (Dottir Press, 2019); Blind (Penguin Random House, 2015); Big Girl Small (FSG, 2011); Repeat After Me (The Overlook Press, 2009); and the memoir Foreign Babes in Beijing (WW Norton, 2005), about the years she spent in Beijing as the unlikely star of a Chinese soap opera. DeWoskin's poetry collection, Two Menus, was published by the University of Chicago Press' Phoenix Poetry Series in 2020. She has received a National Jewish Book Award, a Sydney Taylor Book Award, an American Library Association's Alex Award, and an Academy of American Poets Award, among others. Three of her books, Foreign Babes in BeijingBanshee, and Someday We Will Fly, are being developed for television or feature film. Her poems, essays, and articles have appeared in journals and anthologies including The New YorkerVanity FairPloughshares, and New Voices from the Academy of American Poets. DeWoskin is an Associate Professor of Practice in the Arts at UChicago and an affiliated faculty member in Jewish Studies, East Asian Studies, and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.