Review | Tuesday 04 March 2008
After Siri Hustvedt’s stunning and critically successful novel What I Loved (2003), it was with great anticipation that I read her new novel, Sorrows of an American. Once again, Hustvedt has delivered a multi-layered and profoundly affecting novel that engages the reader throughout.The new book begins with grieving siblings Erik and Inga Davidsen attending their father’s funeral in rural Minnesota. While sorting through their dead father’s papers, the pair discovers a disturbing letter by an unknown woman from their father’s past. Upon returning to their lives in New York, Erik and Inga continue to pursue the mystery behind the letter, while Erik embarks on reading his father’s memoir, hoping to discover the man he never knew. At the same time a beautiful woman, Miranda, enters Erik’s life, moving into the garden flat above his with her young daughter. As Erik gets drawn into the cat-and-mouse tactics of someone who appears to be stalking Miranda (and his undeniable feelings for her), he discovers that Inga is also being threatened, by a journalist in possession of a heartbreaking secret from her late husband’s past. As the novel progresses, each new mystery unfolds to reveal a family’s secrets, sorrows and stories, in both the past and the present. Sorrows of an American is a beautiful novel and will surely be one of the must-reads of the year.