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The Blazing World: A Novel by [Hustvedt, Siri]
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The Blazing World: A Novel Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 147 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Hustvedt’s (Living, Thinking, Looking, 2012) fascination with art and artists, a prime subject in her fiction and essays, propels her sixth novel through a labyrinth of masquerade and betrayal to profoundly unsettling truths. I. V. Hess is the editor of this purported collection of writings by and about an enigmatic artist, Harriet Burden, the tall, strong, erudite widow of a famous and secretive art dealer. Long enraged over the dismissive response to her work, Harriet launches a high-stakes gambit to expose the art world’s persistent sexism. She convinces three male artists to pose as the creators of a sequence of her elaborate, allusive, and wildly provocative installations. We observe Harriet, her intellectually astute and psychologically daring art, and her risky quest for validation and justice from multiple, often contradictory perspectives through entries from Harriet’s journals, art reviews, and interviews with and written statements by various experts, including, oddly enough, a woman who reads auras, as well as Harriet’s daughter and son, lifelong friend, lover, and artist-accomplices, trustworthy and vile. Hustvedt subtly explores the intricate workings of the brain and the mysteries of the mind as she shrewdly investigates gender differences, parodies art criticism, and contrasts diabolical ambition and the soul-scouring inquiries of expressive art. A heady, suspenseful, funny, and wrenching novel of creativity, identity, and longing. --Donna Seaman

Review

LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE

"The Blazing World offers a spirited romp...constructed as a Nabokovian cat's cradle....Hustvedt's portrait of the artist as a middle-aged widow is searingly fresh. It's rare to encounter a female protagonist who throws her weight around quite so grandiloquently as Harriet Burden, a heroine who is—well, more like the hero of a Philip Roth or a Saul Bellow novel." (New York Times Book Review)

“Ingeniously and energetically put together. . . . The Blazing World never runs out of steam in dispensing ideas and peeling back layers of truth.” (Chicago Tribune)

The Blazing World is Siri Hustvedt’s best novel yet, an electrifying work with a titanic, poignantly flawed protagonist. Harriet Burden’s rage, turbulence and neediness leap off these pages in a skillfully orchestrated chorus of voices both dark and brilliant.” (The Washington Post)

“Incandescent. . . . Hustvedt’s greatest triumph here is not the feminist argument she makes. It’s that we ache for her characters. This is a muscular book, and just enough of that muscle is heart.” (The Boston Globe)

“A glorious mashup of storytelling and scholarship. . . .[The Blazing World’s] touching conclusion ‘blazes hot and bright’ from the perspective of an aura reader, Harriet's caretaker, whose vision of the artist's work is at once spiritually charged and whimsical.” (The San Francisco Chronicle)

"In certain respects, The Blazing World is a didactic novel, presenting arguments about the place of gender in American cultural life, yet it avoids preaching or settled judgments by putting at its center a figure whose strongly held beliefs are undermined by the hazards of real life. The effect is more fluid and nuanced than any scholarly study or political diatribe could be." (The Wall Street Journal)

The Blazing World is unique and recognizably so, a bracing examination of the act of creation, of fame and identity, gender bias and feminism, love and desire, psychology and philosophy. . . . Full of life and ideas and intellectual prowess, it’s also a compelling story with richly drawn characters. . . .[An] extraordinary puzzle.” (The Miami Herald)

"Complex, astonishing, harrowing, and utterly, completely engrossing." (NPR)

“This is feminism in the tradition of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, or Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own: richly complex, densely psychological, dazzlingly nuanced. And at the same time, the book is a spectacularly good read. Its storytelling is magnificent, its characters vivid, its plot gripping; it’s rare that a novel of ideas can be so much fun.” (Slate)

"Siri Hustvedt has earned her reputation as a brilliant thinker and articulate writer. This is not her first work of fiction, and The Blazing World is strong proof that her talents are unmatched in the genre. . . a delightful, quirky story that shares many truths about women in the arts, and the struggles they encounter in rising to fame." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

“Dazzling. . . ingeniously constructed. . . . The Blazing World is a serious, sometimes profound book, tackling head-on the knotty issues of identity and sense of self, and our unconscious ideas about gender and celebrity. It offers an exhilarating reading experience for anyone willing to meet its challenge.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“Siri Hustvedt has a rare gift for finding the human heart in what might be cerebral musings and rarefied settings.” (Columbus Dispatch)

“Immediately engrossing. . . . None of the narrators, even Harriet, are precisely reliable, and this ingeniously supports Harriet’s own theory that we are all just monsters wearing masks.” (San Antonio Current)

"The absence of women artists in the history of painting is an old feminist topic, but it is one The Blazing World approaches head-on." (The Guardian)

"Hustvedt’s novels – What I Loved, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, The Summer Without Men, among others – have always been smart, accomplished, critically acclaimed but this one feels like a departure. There is more heat in it, more wildness; it seems to burst on to a whole other level of achievement and grace." (Financial Times)

"Densely brilliant, but terrifyingly clever too... you don’t need a PhD in Kierkegaard to enjoy Hustvedt’s writing, and it’s a pleasure to feel your brain whirring as it forges links and finds the cracks across differing accounts. Even if The Blazing World is about ambiguity and mutability in everything from authorship to gender to memory, Hustvedt’s text is carefully, impressively constructed: she’s as convincing in each fictional voice as Harriet is in her masks." (The Independent)

"An exuberantly clever piece of work.... [A] novel that gloriously lives up to its title, one blazing with energy and thought." (The Times)

“Masterful. . . .[Hustvedt’s] long-running explorations have rarely been merged together as fluidly as they are here, an achievement that has everything to do with rendering the novel’s abundant intellect in a deeply felt and accessible manner. Six novels and more than two decades into her career, it is altogether fair to argue that Siri Hustvedt is quietly becoming one of North America’s most subversive and fearlessly intelligent writers.” (Toronto Star)

"Both intellectually and emotionally gripping… the generosity of the storytelling leads to full and often affecting backstories for all the main characters… [it] feels like one of those novels in which a well-established author triumphantly sums up, and possibly even surpasses, everything they’ve done before." (The Spectator)

The Blazing World is poundingly alive with ideas, personalities, conviction, fear, fakery, ambition, and sorrow. The reading mind is set on high, happy alert.” (The New York Journal of Books)

"A heady, suspenseful, funny, and wrenching novel of creativity, identity, and longing." (Booklist (Starred Review))

“Larger-than-life Harry reads vociferously, loves fervently, and overflows with intellectual and creative energy….Hustvedt dissects the art world with ironic insight….This is a funny, sad, through-provoking, and touching portrait of a woman who is blazing with postfeminist fury and propelled by artistic audacity." (Publishers Weekly)

“Readers of Hustvedt’s essay collections (Living, Thinking, Looking, 2012, etc.) will recognize the writer’s long-standing interest in questions of perception, and her searching intellect is also evident here. But as the story of Harry’s life coheres . . . it’s the emotional content that seizes the reader . . . As in her previous masterpiece, What I Loved (2003), Hustvedt paints a scathing portrait of the art world, obsessed with money and the latest trend, but superb descriptions of Harry’s work—installations expressing her turbulence and neediness—remind us that the beauty and power of art transcend such trivialities . . . Blazing indeed: not just with Harry’s fury, but with agonizing compassion for all of wounded humanity.” (Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review))

“Intelligent and . . . knowledgeable about the world of modern art, theory, and philosophy, Hustvedt describes in detail the insular world of the New York City art scene.” (Library Review)


Product details

  • File Size: 4786 KB
  • Print Length: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (March 11, 2014)
  • Publication Date: March 11, 2014
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DPM7TB8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,530 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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