This Strange Eventful History

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Product Details
$29.99  $27.89
W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
6.25 X 9.3 X 1.35 inches | 1.65 pounds

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About the Author

Claire Messud was educated at Cambridge and Yale. Her novels, When the World Was Steady and The Hunters were both finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her second novel, The Last Life, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Editor's Choice at The Village Voice. Three of her books were New York Times Notable Books of the Year. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Radcliffe Fellowship, and is the current recipient of the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.

It's almost unbearably moving, wise and full of the most gorgeous prose.-- "The Guardian"
A choral mural of sweep and scope that knows just when to render the historical personal, Claire Messud's epic is above all a wise, wary, yet love-struck chronicle of how the selves we strive to make become 'colonized' by family.--Joshua Cohen, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Netanyahus
This Strange Eventful History is an astonishment--rich and luminous, dense with life, wide with wisdom. Messud's view of the Cassar family--and we suspect as we read it, her own--is as emotionally precise and imaginatively capacious as her rendering of the history that shapes their fortunes. Rarely has the private magic of familial love been so fully realized in a public act of literature. Just exquisite.--Ayad Akhtar, author of Homeland Elegies, a New York Times Top Ten book
What an extraordinary experience This Strange Eventful History gives to readers. It takes them on artful and masterfully orchestrated grand tours: of the world as it spins toward and away from World War II into nearly our own time, of three generations of the Cassar family as it concentrates and disperses and arrays itself across the spinning world, of the individual family members as they each experience in their own indelible ways how history enfolds and excludesus, how time--implacable and indecipherable--befalls us, and how love may possibly be the only true human masterpiece, elusive as it so often and tragically proves to be. Claire Messud captures the heartbreaking paradoxes of being in our world and in ourselves yet feeling separated from both with a precision and acuity like no other writer I know.--Paul Harding, author of the Booker Prize Finalist This Other Eden
A tour de force, This Strange Eventful History is one of those rare novels which a reader doesn't merely read but lives through with the characters. Call it the War and Peace of the 20th and 21st century; call it The Long View of a family migrating through many borders, worlds, and eras; call it anything and we fall short. Claire Messud is a magnificent storyteller, and the novel, an all-encompassing history of many human hearts and any human heart, will linger and haunt us as the best and the most heartbreaking memory.--Yiyun Li, author of the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning The Book of Goose
There are few genres more enjoyable than the sprawling, decade-spanning family saga (especially in the hands of a brilliant novelist). Claire Messud's latest novel tells the story of an Algerian-born French family from 1940 through 2010 as they navigate personal and political upheaval...Sold.-- "Literary Hub"
Deeply intertwined with the sociopolitical upheaval of the 20th century, and inspired by Messud's own family history, this sweeping narrative is as intimate as it is profound.-- "Oprah Daily"
This Strange Eventful History relates the story of the Cassars, a family of French Algerian origin who were displaced after World War II and Algerian independence. Author of The Emperor's Children, The Woman Upstairs and The Burning Girl, Claire Messud crafts complex characters and builds tension by exploring the intensity of their emotions. This family saga has the added intrigue of being inspired in part by a family memoir written by Messud's grandfather.-- "BookPage"
[Claire Messud] paints compelling portraits of internal conflicts and tangled relationships, dropping along the way tantalizing references to crucial events that will be clarified later, in a rich narrative that defies summary...[her] gimlet eye and quietly masterful way with words make every character and incident gripping. Brilliant and heart-wrenching; Messud is one of contemporary literature's best.-- "Kirkus (starred review)"
[Messud] draws from her own family history for this exquisite multigenerational saga of the Cassars, a pied-noir clan exiled from Algeria by the country's 1954-62 war of independence...In her characteristically artful prose, Messud burrows inside the hearts and minds of her key players, bringing to their struggles and self-deceptions a deep-veined empathy made even more remarkable by how close she is to the story. This is an astonishment.-- "Publishers Weekly (starred review)"
Claire Messud has transformed three generations of her family's story into a tour de force in This Strange Eventful History...all around them are the upheavals of the 20th century, but though Messud is working on a grand canvas, her skill is in miniature. History is dazzling in its fine-tuned character studies...all beautifully realized. This is a pointillist novel, profound in its portrayal of strains, bonds, and heartbreak.--Taylor Antrim "Vogue"
A novelist of exquisite artistry and insight draws on her own family history in this gorgeously realized, acutely sensitive, cosmopolitan, century-spanning, multigenerational saga...Messud captures life's wheels-within-wheels on every incandescent page.--Donna Seaman "Booklist (starred review)"
Tolstoy famously wrote in Anna Karenina that "happy families are all alike," but "every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Sometimes, though, unhappiness has to do with what is universal, and this is what Messud is especially adept at conveying...In writing this breathtaking ode--and lament--of a novel, Messud honors her ancestors by interrogating the circumstances that shaped them and the questions that plagued them.--Leigh Habor "Boston Globe"
Claire Messud is an author who perfectly pairs scale and intimacy in her prose. Inspired in part Messud's family history, This Strange Eventful History is an epic cross-generational story that follows a pieds-noirs family separated in the chaos of World War II and made adrift without a homeland after Algerian independence. The novel's ingenuity and ambitious scope can't be underestimated; This Strange Eventful History is nothing less than a literary event, sure to surprise and delight at every turn.-- "Chicago Review of Books"
The always incredible Claire Messud's own history helped inspire this engrossing story, which follows a complicated family--as if there were any other kind--across decades and around the world, as legends are made, secrets are buried, and truths come out in the most unexpected of ways. It's a touching, skillfully crafted work that reminds us of the ongoing stories of which we're all a part.-- "Town & Country"
Claire Messud's profound and exacting new novel is an epic involving several generations of a diasporic family on a volatile earth--a fictionalised version, as the prologue tells us, of her own family's wanderings, an attempt at the imaginative retrieval of beloved persons and memories lost in the ruins of time.-- "Literary Review"