A decade after National Book Award winner Susan Sontag’s death, German critic Schreiber presents a supple biography focused primarily on her life of the mind. He does insightfully cover the biographical essentials: Sontag’s lonely, fatherless childhood in the Arizona desert, her starting college at 16, her early marriage to a professor and the birth of her son, her rejection of matrimony and academia, her bisexuality, and her extraordinary rise to fame as a fiercely independent and unceasingly controversial intellectual and activist. Schreiber chronicles the life-saving loyalty of Sontag’s publisher, Roger Straus, and considers the star power of Sontag’s “irresistible mixture of intelligence, hipness, sex, and beauty.” Voraciously curious world traveler Sontag immersed herself in literature, film, music, dance, art, and theater. Proud of her fiction, Sontag is renowned for her brilliantly intrepid essays about everything from illness to photography, works that erased the line between highbrow and popular cultures and mapped fresh aesthetic and moral terrain. Just as Sontag embraced European sensibilities, Schreiber brings a European perspective to his analysis of the complexities of Sontag’s fiery temperament, adventurously creative life, and profound achievements. --Donna Seaman
DANIEL SCHREIBER is a Berlin-based writer. An art and literary critic, he contributes to numerous German and Swiss magazines and newspapers, including Die Zeit, DU—das Kulturmagazin, Philosophie Magazin, Litera turen, and Weltkunst, as well as the radio station Deutschlandradio Kultur. He is a columnist for the daily taz—die tageszeitung, and his essays on art and culture appear in a number of anthologies. He was previously contributing editor to Monopol and headed the culture section of the magazine Cicero.
DAVID DOLLENMAYER is emeritus professor of German at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is the winner of the 2008 Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize for his translation of Moses Rosenkranz’s Childhood: An Autobiographical Fragment.