Nicole Krauss

Portrait Nicole Krauss
© Hartwig Klappert

Nicole Krauss was born in New York, USA, in 1974.  She studied English Literature at Stanford University in California and at Oxford University in the UK, where she was a Marshall Scholar.  She then went on to study at London’s Courtauld Institute, where she wrote her Master’s thesis on Rembrandt. From early on she admired the poetry of Zbigniew Herbert, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Joseph Brodsky, with whom she had a regular correspondence.  During her studies she published poems in various British journals. In 1999 she produced a radio portrait about Brodsky for the BBC.  She founded and organised a series of readings at the New York restaurant ‘The Russian Samovar’ in which numerous writers – among them John Ashbery, Susan Sontag, Derek Walcott, and Jonathan Franzen – took part.  The conflict of memory is of great importance in Krauss’s work. Her Jewish grandparents left Europe in time before the war, while other family members perished in the Holocaust. Her debut novel, ‘Man Walks into a Room’ (2002), also deals with identity, memory and its loss. Samson Greene, a thirty-six year old Literature professor, is found wandering disoriented through the Nevada desert.  The removal of a small brain tumor saves his life, but his memories beyond the age of twelve are permanently lost. It is the story of an intelligent, sensitive man returned to a world in which everything is strange and new.  At first he meets his condition with confusion, then, as a kind of liberation. When a charismatic scientist asks Samson to participate in a bold experiment, he agrees. In this novel, Nicole Krauss grapples with the emotional, scientific, historical, religious and literary facets of oblivion and remembrance. Critics were especially impressed by the conciseness of her literary images and the perspicacious representation of such complex themes. Her first short story, ‘Future Emergencies’, was published in ‘Esquire’ magazine in 2002, and was contained in the anthology Best American Short Stories 2003. Her novel, ‘The History of Love’, was excerpted in “The New Yorker”. Nicole Krauss worked as a columnist for the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, and both she and her husband, the writer Jonathan Safran Foer, are currently guests of the American Academy in Berlin. They live in New York.

© international literature festival berlin