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A Novelist’s Favorite Forgotten Novel

Question: What’s your favorite \r\n“forgotten” novel?

\r\n\r\n

Siri Hustvedt: Oh yeah.  Well,\r\n it's not entirely forgotten and for some people, you\r\nknow, it's a very important book. \r\nBut it is a book that seems to sort of go underwater to come up a\r\nlittle and then fall again.  And it\r\nis Djuna Barnes’s "Nightwood."  This\r\nis a book that was published in the '30s.  It's a \r\ntiny little book; a dense, poetic little novel.  I\r\n think the current edition still has\r\nT.S. Eliot's introduction to it; a very enthusiastic one. \r\n I have read this book now three\r\ntimes.  It is a remarkable little\r\nbook about passion; sexual passion, also that is sort of living on the \r\nmargins\r\nof a culture.  It takes place in\r\nParis and it's a love story between two women.  And\r\n there is a character, a character that I love, whose\r\nname is Dr. Matthew O'Connor.  He's\r\na transvestite kind of pseudo-doctor who gives some of the most \r\nwonderful\r\nspeeches in literature.  And I, so\r\nwhen I have a chance, I do come out and say, if you haven't read Djuna \r\nBarnes’ "Nightwood"—I think it's the only book, by the way to recommend,\r\n by her.  I'm not so crazy about the rest of her\r\nwork.  But this is a really\r\nextraordinary, unusual little book. \r\nAnd it's not my absolutely favorite work of literature, but it's \r\none\r\nthat I think people should look at and read more.

Siri Hustvedt recommends an "extraordinary, unusual little book."

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Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
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