The grieving siblings return to New York from Minnesota, and they continue to pursue the mystery behind the note. While Erik struggles with emotional vulnerability to his psychiatric patients and his fascination with new tenants in his building threatens to overwhelm him, Inga is confronted by a hostile journalist who seems to know a secret connected to her dead husband, who was a famous novelist. As each new mystery unfolds, Erik begins to inhabit his emotionally hidden father’s history and to glimpse how his impoverished childhood, the Depression, and the war shaped his relationship with his children. At the same time, Inga must confront the reality of her husband’s double life.
The Sorrows of an American is a novel about fathers and children; listening and deafness; recognition and blindness; the pain of speaking and the pain of keeping silent; and the ambiguities of memory, loneliness, illness, and recovery. Siri Hustvedt’s prose reveals one family’s hidden sorrows through a mosaic of secrets and stories that reflect the fragmented nature of identity itself.
Siri Hustvedt is the author of three previous novels, What I Loved, The Blindfold, and The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, as well as a collection of essays, A Plea for Eros. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Paul Auster.