Literary Birthday – 19 February – Siri Hustvedt

Happy Birthday, Siri Hustvedt, born 19 February 1955.


  1. Great books are the ones that are urgent, life-changing, the ones that crack open the reader’s skull and heart.
  2. All novel writing is personal. A question I have been asking myself recently is: Why one story and not another? A fiction writer can write anything, after all, but she does not. How does a novelist know when a story is right or wrong?
  3. Writing fiction is like remembering what never happened.
  4. Read, read more, and read even more. Read what you love and never stop reading. No one can write without reading, but no one can write if that reading becomes so weighted by ideas of greatness that they prevent you from writing a single word.
  5. The irony of writing well is that it requires an immense inner world, which is at least in part made up of the books one has read, the hundreds of voices from the past that speak from within. At the same time, no one can write without ‘adaptive grandiosity’. Adaptive grandiosity is an inner belief that what you have to say, your inner feelings, thoughts, imaginings are somehow of value to the rest of the world.
  6. We lose ourselves in stories; that’s the beauty of literary art.
  7. Our memory fragments don’t have any coherence until they’re imagined in words. Time is a property of language, of syntax, and tense.
  8. Experience has taught me that good work can only appear when the writer is relaxed and open, when she or he is able to attune her or himself to a deep inner music and then sing on the page.
  9. A book is a collaboration between the one who reads and what is read, and, at its best, that coming together is a love story like any other.

Siri Hustvedt is an American novelist and essayist. She has written a book of poetry, five novels, two books of essays, and several works of non-fiction. Her books include What I Loved and The Summer Without Men. Her work has been translated into more than 30 languages.

Source for quotes

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 19th February 2014