Nicole Krauss

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Nicole Krauss
Krauss, Nicole.jpg
Born (1974-08-18) August 18, 1974 (age 47)
Manhattan, New York City, United States
OccupationNovelist and short story writer
EducationStanford University
Somerville College, Oxford
Courtauld Institute
Literary movementPostmodernism
Notable worksMan Walks Into a Room (2002)
The History of Love (2005)
Great House (2010)
Forest Dark (2017)
To Be a Man (2020)
Notable awards
(m. 2004; div. 2014)

Nicole Krauss (born August 18, 1974)[1] is an American author best known for her four novels Man Walks Into a Room (2002), The History of Love (2005), Great House (2010) and Forest Dark (2017), which have been translated into 35 languages.[2] Her fiction has been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, and Granta's Best American Novelists Under 40, and has been collected in Best American Short Stories 2003, Best American Short Stories 2008, and Best American Short Stories 2019. In 2011, Nicole Krauss won an award from the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards for Great House.[3] A collection of her short stories, To Be a Man, was published in 2020.[4]

Early life[edit]

Krauss, who grew up on Long Island,[5][6] New York, was born in Manhattan, New York City to a British Jewish mother and an American Jewish father, an engineer and orthopedic surgeon[7] who grew up partly in Israel.[8] Krauss's maternal grandparents were born in Germany and Ukraine and later emigrated to London. Her paternal grandparents were born in Hungary and Slonim, Belarus, met in Israel, and later emigrated to New York.[9] Many of these places are central to Krauss's 2005 novel, The History of Love, and the book is dedicated to her grandparents.[6]

Krauss, who started writing when she was a teenager,[10][11] wrote and published mainly poetry[11][12] until she began her first novel in 2001.

In 1987, when Krauss’ father traveled with his family to Switzerland to take up a medical fellowship in Basel, she was enrolled as a boarder in the International School of Geneva, where she pursued her secondary school studies in Year 9. Krauss’ memories of that experience are conveyed in her autobiographical short story "Switzerland", published in 2020.[13]

Krauss enrolled in Stanford University in 1992, and that fall she met Joseph Brodsky[5] who worked closely with her on her poetry over the next three years. He also introduced her to the work of writers such as Italo Calvino and Zbigniew Herbert. In 1999, three years after Brodsky died, Krauss produced a documentary about his work for BBC Radio 3.[14] She traveled to St. Petersburg where she stood in the "room and a half" where he grew up, made famous by his essay of that title. Krauss majored in English and graduated with honors, winning several undergraduate prizes for her poetry as well as the Dean's Award for academic achievement. She also curated a reading series with Fiona Maazel at the Russian Samovar, a restaurant in New York City co-founded by Roman Kaplan, Brodsky and Mikhail Baryshnikov.[15]

In 1996 Krauss was awarded a Marshall Scholarship and enrolled in a master's program at Somerville College, Oxford[2] where she wrote a thesis on the American artist Joseph Cornell. During the second year of her scholarship she attended the Courtauld Institute in London,[2] where she received a master's in art history, specializing in 17th-century Dutch art and writing a thesis on Rembrandt.


The title of Krauss's 2017 novel Forest Dark is derived from the opening lines of Dante's Inferno in which Dante is lost in a dark forest, shown here in this engraving by Gustave Doré

In 2002, Doubleday published Krauss's acclaimed[16][17] first novel, Man Walks Into a Room. A meditation on memory and personal history, solitude and intimacy, the novel won praise from Susan Sontag and was a finalist for a Los Angeles Times Book Award. The movie rights to the novel were optioned by Richard Gere.

Krauss's second novel, The History of Love, was first published as an excerpt in The New Yorker in 2004, under the title The Last Words on Earth.[18] The novel, published in 2005 in the United States by W. W. Norton, weaves together the stories of Leo Gursky, an 80-year-old Holocaust survivor from Slonim, the young Alma Singer who is coping with the death of her father, and the story of a lost manuscript also called The History of Love. The book was a 2006 finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction and won the 2008 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing for fiction. A film of the book, directed by Radu Mihăileanu, was released in 2016.[19][20]

In spring 2007, Krauss was Holtzbrinck Distinguished Visitor at the American Academy in Berlin.[21]

Her third novel, Great House, connects the stories of four characters to a desk of many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or have given it away. It was named a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize 2011[22] and also won an Award from the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards in 2011.[3]

In 2015 it was reported that Krauss had signed a $4 million deal with HarperCollins to publish her next two works: a novel, and also a book of short stories. The novel is entitled Forest Dark and was published in 2017.[23] Francesca Segal, writing in the Financial Times, describes it as a "richly layered tale of two lives" that explores "ideas of identity and belonging – and the lure of the Tel Aviv Hilton".[24] The novel's title is derived from the opening lines of Dante's Inferno, as translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.[25][26] The collection of short stories, To Be a Man, was published in 2020.[4]

In 2020, Krauss was one of three Artists-in-Residence at Columbia University's Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.[27]


Krauss's work often explores the relationship between Jewish history and identity, the limited capacity of language and communication to produce understanding, loneliness, and memory. These themes are readily appreciable beginning in her first novel Man Walks Into a Room, wherein the protagonist loses years of lived memory while retaining all cognitive function. Playing with tenets of cognitive neuroscience and metaphysics, Man Walks Into a Room considers the relative roles of lived experience, materiality, and cognitive memory in shaping personal identity and being.

In a departure from her earlier work, Krauss's later novels progressively question and abandon traditional narrative structure in pursuit of themes more characteristic of late postmodern literature. Fragmentation and nonlinear narrative become increasingly present in her work through the use of multiple narrators whose narrative arcs may not directly meet but whose meanings are derived from resonance and pattern similarity (see The History of Love, Great House, Forest Dark). The History of Love and Forest Dark employ techniques of metafiction and intertextuality, questioning the veracity of the novel's form and antagonizing the traditional contract between reader and text.[28][29] The co-protagonist of Forest Dark in particular is a novelist who shares the author's name and several biographical details, including reflections on a failed marriage to a man with whom the character has two children, considerations of the constraints of fiction, a fascination with Franz Kafka's life and writing, and a preoccupation with "Jewish mysticism, Israel and creation."[30][31] In an August 2017 interview with The Guardian, Krauss is quoted saying:

“In a sense, the self is more or less an invention from beginning to end. What is more unreal, what is more a creation than the self? Why do we have such a heavy investment in knowing what is true and what isn’t true about people’s lives? Why is it even valid to make a distinction between autobiography, auto-fiction and fiction itself? What fiction doesn’t contain a deep reflection of the author’s perspective and memory and sense of the world?”[32]

This evident blurring of the distinction between reality and fiction seems to reflect a rejection of objectivism in favor of sublime relativism,[33] and unites Krauss with the wider gestalt common to her postmodern peers.

Personal life[edit]

Krauss lives in Brooklyn, New York.[34] She has two children, Sasha and Cy, by her former husband, the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer. She and Foer married in 2004 and divorced in 2014.[34] Krauss subsequently embarked on a five-year relationship with the Israeli journalist and novelist Gon Ben Ari, whom she met when she granted him an interview several years earlier.[35][36]

Krauss enjoys swimming and dancing.[37]



  • Nicole Krauss (2002). Man Walks Into a Room. Doubleday. ISBN 9781407413365. OCLC 809413112.
  • — (2005). The History of Love: a novel. W. W. Norton. ISBN 9780241973639. OCLC 919894482.
  • — (2010). Great House. W. W. Norton. ISBN 9780393079982. OCLC 965579634.
  • — (2017). Forest Dark. HarperCollins. ISBN 9781408871829. OCLC 1003643528.

Short story collections[edit]

Short stories[edit]

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected in
Future Emergencies 2002 Esquire (November 1, 2002) Katrina Kennison; Walter Mosley, eds. (2003). The Best American Short Stories 2003. Houghton Mifflin.
Nicole Krauss (2020). To Be a Man: Stories. HarperCollins (USA); Bloomsbury Publishing (UK).[38]
The last words on Earth 2004 The New Yorker (February 9, 2004)
My painter 2007 Granta 97: Best of Young American Novelists 2 (April 16, 2007)
From the desk of Daniel Varsky 2007 Harper's (June 2007) Heidi Pitlor; Salman Rushdie, eds. (2008). The Best American Short Stories 2008. Houghton Mifflin.
The young painters 2010 The New Yorker 86/18 (June 28, 2010)
An arrangement of light 2012 An arrangement of light. San Francisco: Byliner. 2012. ISBN 9781614520405.[39]
Zusya on the roof 2013 The New Yorker 88/46 (February 4, 2013) Nicole Krauss (2020). To Be a Man: Stories. HarperCollins (USA); Bloomsbury Publishing (UK).[38]
I Am Asleep but My Heart Is Awake 2013 The New Republic (December 2013)[40] Nicole Krauss (2020). To Be a Man: Stories. HarperCollins (USA); Bloomsbury Publishing (UK).[38]
Seeing Ershadi 2018 The New Yorker (March 5, 2018)[41]
End of Days 2020 Nicole Krauss (2020). To Be a Man: Stories. HarperCollins (USA); Bloomsbury Publishing (UK).[38]
Switzerland 2020 The New Yorker (September 21, 2020)[42] Nicole Krauss (2020). To Be a Man: Stories. HarperCollins (USA); Bloomsbury Publishing (UK).[38]
To Be a Man 2020 The Atlantic (October 2, 2020)[43] Nicole Krauss (2020). To Be a Man: Stories. HarperCollins (USA); Bloomsbury Publishing (UK).[38]

Essays and reporting[edit]

Review columns[edit]

Date Review article Work(s) reviewed
1999 Nicole Krauss (November 7, 1999). "Future Tense". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 16, 2017. Joseph Brodsky (1995). Discovery. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 978-1437964127.
2011 Nicole Krauss (September 29, 2011). "Antwerp by Roberto Bolaño – review". The Guardian. Retrieved January 28, 2015. Roberto Bolaño (2010). Antwerp. New York: New Directions Publishing. ISBN 978-0811217170.

Awards and accolades[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jennifer L. Knox (June 21, 2010). "20 Under 40: Q. & A. Nicole Krauss". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Private Passions: Nicole Krauss". BBC Radio 3, BBC website. March 27, 2011. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Nicole Krauss: Great House". 2011 Fiction. Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "To Be a Man". Publishers Weekly. 2020. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Gaby Wood (May 15, 2005). "Have a heart". The Observer. Retrieved April 7, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Ann Marsh (September–October 2005). "The Emergence of Nicole Krauss". Stanford Magazine (Stanford Alumni Association). Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  7. ^ Rachel Cooke (February 13, 2011). "Nicole Krauss: 'I take great pleasure in thinking'". The Observer. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  8. ^ Hannah Brown (May 14, 2010). "The history of Nicole Krauss". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
  9. ^ Jessica Teisch (Nov–Dec 2010). "Nicole Krauss". Bookmarks Magazine (49). Retrieved April 28, 2011.
  10. ^ Bryan Cheyette (March 11, 2011). "Great House By Nicole Krauss". The Independent. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
  11. ^ a b "A conversation with Nicole Krauss". Bold Type. Random House. May 2002. Retrieved April 28, 2011.
  12. ^ Boris Katchka (May 21, 2005). "Bio Hazards". New York. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  13. ^ Deborah Triesman (September 14, 2020). "Nicole Krauss on the Drama of Desire". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
  14. ^ Nicole Krauss (November 7, 1999). "Future Tense". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 28, 2011.
  15. ^ Leon Neyfakh (December 20, 2007). "Farrar, Straus and Giroux To Host Monthly Reading Series at Russian Samovar". New York Observer. Archived from the original on June 16, 2011. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  16. ^ Joy Press (May 21, 2002). Living in Oblivion,Village Voice, Retrieved May 14, 2011. "Krauss is a fluent, thoughtful writer who takes on a lot of complex ideas and rarely loses her grip on them... Man Walks Into a Room is a chilling addition to the annals of amnesia lit. It's a novel that grapples with the ephemeral experience of being human and the realization that we create a lifetime of memories that vanish when we do".
  17. ^ Gillian Flynn (August 2, 2002). "Man Walks Into a Room". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 16, 2011.
  18. ^ Nicole Krauss (February 9, 2004). "The Last Words on Earth". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  19. ^ Elsa Keslassy (March 2, 2016). "Wild Bunch Sends Radu Mihaileanu's 'The History of Love' Across the World". Retrieved March 27, 2016.
  20. ^ Lisa Nesselson (September 27, 2016). "'The History Of Love': Review". Screendaily. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  21. ^ "Nicole Krauss: Holtzbrinck Distinguished Visitor, Class of Spring 2007". American Academy in Berlin. Retrieved August 13, 2020.
  22. ^ "Orange prize 2011 shortlist – in pictures". The Guardian. April 12, 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  23. ^ "Forest Dark". Kirkus Reviews. June 20, 2017. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  24. ^ Francesca Segal (August 18, 2017). "Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss — reality checked". Financial Times. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  25. ^ Keziah Weir (12 September 2017). "Nicole Krauss Talks Divorce, Freedom, and New Beginnings". Elle. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  26. ^ "Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, For the straightforward pathway had been lost." Catherine Conroy (September 21, 2017). "Nicole Krauss: end of a marriage is 'terrifying but the freefall is exhilarating'". The Irish Times. Retrieved November 1, 2019.
  27. ^ "Columbia's Zuckerman Institute announces three artists-in-residence". American Association for the Advancement of Science. February 4, 2020. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  28. ^ Laura Miller (May 1, 2005). "'The History of Love': Under the Influence". The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  29. ^ Peter Orner (September 12, 2017). "In 'Forest Dark,' Nicole Krauss Plays With Divided Selves". The New York Times. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  30. ^ Ron Charles (September 12, 2017). "Is Nicole Krauss's new novel an act of literary revenge?". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  31. ^ Luke Neima (August 24, 2017). "Nicole Krauss in Conversation". Granta. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  32. ^ Erica Wagner (August 20, 2017). "Nicole Krauss: 'The self is more or less an invention from beginning to end'". The Guardian. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  33. ^ Anna Clark (September 19, 2017). "This Is Not a Novel: Reality and Realism in Nicole Krauss's "Forest Dark"". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  34. ^ a b Jewish Telegraphic Agency (June 19, 2014). "Authors Foer, Krauss have been separated for a year". Times of Israel. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  35. ^ Keziah Weir (September 12, 2017). "Nicole Krauss Talks Divorce, Freedom, and New Beginnings". Elle. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  36. ^ Moran Sharir (April 1, 2021). "A Man Stands Up and Decides He's a Guru: the Writer Gon Ben Ari Explains His Metamorphosis". Haaretz. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  37. ^ Hannah Beckerman (September 15, 2017). "Nicole Krauss: 'In water you can think differently'". Financial Times. Retrieved August 13, 2020.
  38. ^ a b c d e f Aminatta Forna (November 18, 2020). "To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss review – how far do we really know ourselves?". The Guardian. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  39. ^ Kasia Mychajlowycz (June 15, 2012). "Nicole Krauss at Luminato 2012". The Toronto Review of Books. Retrieved August 22, 2012. Krauss introduced and read this novella at Luminato, Toronto's Festival of Arts and Creativity
  40. ^ Jason Diamond (January 6, 2014). "'The New Republic' is Back in the Short Story Publishing Business". Vol.1 Brooklyn. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  41. ^ Nicole Krauss. Seeing Ershadi, The New Yorker (March 5, 2018). Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  42. ^ Nicole Krauss. Switzerland, The New Yorker (September 21, 2020). Retrieved December 2, 2020.
  43. ^ Nicole Krauss. To Be a Man, The Atlantic (October 2, 2020). Retrieved December 2, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]