Life and career
Pessl was born in Clarkston, Michigan, to Klaus, an Austrian engineer for General Motors, and Anne, an American homemaker. Pessl's parents divorced when she was three, and she moved to Asheville, North Carolina with her mother and sister. Pessl had an intellectually stimulating upbringing, recalling that her mother read "a fair chunk of the Western canon out loud" to her and her sister before bed, and entered her in lessons for riding, painting, jazz, and French. Pessl started high school at the Asheville School, a private, co-educational boarding school, but graduated from Asheville High School in 1995. She attended Northwestern University for two years before transferring to Barnard College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in English Literature.
After graduating, she worked as a financial consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, while writing in her free time. After two failed attempts at novels, Pessl began writing a third in 2001 about the relationship between a daughter and her controlling, charismatic father. Pessl completed the novel, titled Special Topics in Calamity Physics, in 2004 and it was published in 2006 by Viking Penguin to "almost universally positive" reviews, translated into thirty languages, and eventually becoming a New York Times Best Seller.
Pessl's second novel, Night Film, a psychological literary thriller about a New York investigative journalist looking into an apparent suicide of the daughter of a renowned filmmaker, was published by Random House on August 20, 2013.
Pessl was also a contributing musician to The Pierces' third studio album, Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge, released in 2007. She is credited in the liner notes as having played the French horn on track 9 titled "The Power Of..."
- Special Topics in Calamity Physics Penguin, 2006, ISBN 9781101218808
- Night Film: A Novel. Random House LLC. 20 August 2013. ISBN 978-0-307-36822-5.
- Smith, Dinitia (August 21, 2006). "With Marisha Pessl, You Can’t Judge a Book by the Photo on the Cover". The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2007.
- Gould, Emily (September 2006). "An interview with Marisha Pessl". Bookslut. Retrieved June 15, 2007.
- Kennedy, Mark (November 5, 2006). "Don't hate Pessl because she's...". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved June 15, 2007.
- Johnson, Richard (August 18, 2009). "Most Eligible". New York Post. Retrieved June 27, 2012.