Nicole Krauss

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Nicole Krauss
Born (1974-08-18) August 18, 1974 (age 48)
New York City, US
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] and won the Wingate Literary Prize in 2022.[5][6]

Early life[edit]

Krauss, who grew up on Long Island,[7][8] New York, was born in Manhattan, New York City, to a British Jewish mother and an American Jewish father, an engineer and orthopedic surgeon[9] who grew up partly in Israel.[10] 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.[11] Many of these places are central to Krauss's 2005 novel, The History of Love, and the book is dedicated to her grandparents.[8]

Krauss, who started writing when she was a teenager,[12][13] wrote and published mainly poetry[13][14] until she began her first novel in 2001.

In 1987, when Krauss's 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's memories of that experience are conveyed in her autobiographical short story "Switzerland", published in 2020.[15]

Krauss enrolled in Stanford University in 1992, and that fall she met Joseph Brodsky[7] 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.[16] 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.[17]

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[18][19] 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.[20] 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.[21][22]

In spring 2007, Krauss was Holtzbrinck Distinguished Visitor at the American Academy in Berlin.[23]

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[24] 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.[25] 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".[26] The novel's title is derived from the opening lines of Dante's Inferno, as translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.[27][28] The collection of short stories, To Be a Man, was published in 2020[4] and won the 2022 Wingate Literary Prize.[5][6]

In 2020, Krauss was one of three Artists-in-Residence at Columbia University's Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute.[29]

In 2021, Krauss was the recipient of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, and the first to receive the newly created Inspiration Award, introduced to mark the 15th anniversary of the prize.[30]


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.[31][32] 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."[33][34] 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?”[35]

This evident blurring of the distinction between reality and fiction seems to reflect a rejection of objectivism in favor of sublime relativism,[36] and unites Krauss with the wider gestalt common to her postmodern peers.

Personal life[edit]

Krauss lives in Brooklyn, New York.[37] 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.[37] 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.[38][39]

Krauss enjoys swimming and dancing.[40]



  • 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).[41]
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.[42]
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).[41]
I Am Asleep but My Heart Is Awake 2013 The New Republic (December 2013)[43] Nicole Krauss (2020). To Be a Man: Stories. HarperCollins (USA); Bloomsbury Publishing (UK).[41]
Seeing Ershadi 2018 The New Yorker (March 5, 2018)[44]
End of Days 2020 Nicole Krauss (2020). To Be a Man: Stories. HarperCollins (USA); Bloomsbury Publishing (UK).[41]
Switzerland 2020 The New Yorker (September 21, 2020)[45] Nicole Krauss (2020). To Be a Man: Stories. HarperCollins (USA); Bloomsbury Publishing (UK).[41]
To Be a Man 2020 The Atlantic (October 2, 2020)[46] Nicole Krauss (2020). To Be a Man: Stories. HarperCollins (USA); Bloomsbury Publishing (UK).[41]

Essays and reporting[edit]

Review columns[edit]

Date Review article Work(s) reviewed
1999 Nicole Krauss (7 November 1999). "Future Tense". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 September 2017. Joseph Brodsky (1995). Discovery. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 978-1437964127.
2011 Nicole Krauss (29 September 2011). "Antwerp by Roberto Bolaño – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 January 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 (21 June 2010). "20 Under 40: Q. & A. Nicole Krauss". The New Yorker. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Private Passions: Nicole Krauss". BBC Radio 3, BBC website. 27 March 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Nicole Krauss: Great House". 2011 Fiction. Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b "To Be a Man". Publishers Weekly. 2020. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  5. ^ a b Heloise Wood (16 February 2022). "Krauss short story collection clinches Wingate Prize". The Bookseller. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  6. ^ a b David Herman (17 February 2022). "Wingate Winner Nicole Krauss opens up about the stories that stunned the judges". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  7. ^ a b Gaby Wood (15 May 2005). "Have a heart". The Observer. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  8. ^ a b Ann Marsh (September–October 2005). "The Emergence of Nicole Krauss". Stanford Magazine (Stanford Alumni Association). Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  9. ^ Rachel Cooke (13 February 2011). "Nicole Krauss: 'I take great pleasure in thinking'". The Observer. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  10. ^ Hannah Brown (14 May 2010). "The history of Nicole Krauss". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  11. ^ Jessica Teisch (November–December 2010). "Nicole Krauss". Bookmarks Magazine. No. 49. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  12. ^ Bryan Cheyette (11 March 2011). "Great House By Nicole Krauss". The Independent. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  13. ^ a b "A conversation with Nicole Krauss". Bold Type. Random House. May 2002. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  14. ^ Boris Katchka (21 May 2005). "Bio Hazards". New York. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  15. ^ Deborah Triesman (14 September 2020). "Nicole Krauss on the Drama of Desire". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  16. ^ Nicole Krauss (7 November 1999). "Future Tense". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  17. ^ Leon Neyfakh (20 December 2007). "Farrar, Straus and Giroux To Host Monthly Reading Series at Russian Samovar". New York Observer. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
  18. ^ 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".
  19. ^ Gillian Flynn (2 August 2002). "Man Walks Into a Room". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
  20. ^ Nicole Krauss (9 February 2004). "The Last Words on Earth". The New Yorker. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  21. ^ Elsa Keslassy (2 March 2016). "Wild Bunch Sends Radu Mihaileanu's 'The History of Love' Across the World". Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  22. ^ Lisa Nesselson (27 September 2016). "'The History Of Love': Review". Screen Daily. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  23. ^ "Nicole Krauss: Holtzbrinck Distinguished Visitor, Class of Spring 2007". American Academy in Berlin. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  24. ^ "Orange prize 2011 shortlist – in pictures". The Guardian. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  25. ^ "Forest Dark". Kirkus Reviews. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  26. ^ Francesca Segal (18 August 2017). "Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss — reality checked". Financial Times. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  27. ^ Keziah Weir (12 September 2017). "Nicole Krauss Talks Divorce, Freedom, and New Beginnings". Elle. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
  28. ^ "Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, For the straightforward pathway had been lost." Catherine Conroy (21 September 2017). "Nicole Krauss: end of a marriage is 'terrifying but the freefall is exhilarating'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  29. ^ "Columbia's Zuckerman Institute announces three artists-in-residence". American Association for the Advancement of Science. 4 February 2020. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  30. ^ Tobias Seagal (17 March 2021). "American author Nicole Krauss receives prize for Jewish literature". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  31. ^ Laura Miller (1 May 2005). "'The History of Love': Under the Influence". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  32. ^ Peter Orner (12 September 2017). "In 'Forest Dark,' Nicole Krauss Plays With Divided Selves". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  33. ^ Ron Charles (12 September 2017). "Is Nicole Krauss's new novel an act of literary revenge?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  34. ^ Luke Neima (24 August 2017). "Nicole Krauss in Conversation". Granta. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  35. ^ Erica Wagner (20 August 2017). "Nicole Krauss: 'The self is more or less an invention from beginning to end'". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  36. ^ Anna Clark (19 September 2017). "This Is Not a Novel: Reality and Realism in Nicole Krauss's "Forest Dark"". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  37. ^ a b Jewish Telegraphic Agency (19 June 2014). "Authors Foer, Krauss have been separated for a year". Times of Israel. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  38. ^ Keziah Weir (12 September 2017). "Nicole Krauss Talks Divorce, Freedom, and New Beginnings". Elle. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  39. ^ Moran Sharir (1 April 2021). "A Man Stands Up and Decides He's a Guru: the Writer Gon Ben Ari Explains His Metamorphosis". Haaretz. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  40. ^ Hannah Beckerman (15 September 2017). "Nicole Krauss: 'In water you can think differently'". Financial Times. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  41. ^ a b c d e f Aminatta Forna (18 November 2020). "To Be a Man by Nicole Krauss review – how far do we really know ourselves?". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  42. ^ Kasia Mychajlowycz (15 June 2012). "Nicole Krauss at Luminato 2012". The Toronto Review of Books. Retrieved 22 August 2012. Krauss introduced and read this novella at Luminato, Toronto's Festival of Arts and Creativity
  43. ^ Jason Diamond (6 January 2014). "'The New Republic' is Back in the Short Story Publishing Business". Vol.1 Brooklyn. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  44. ^ Nicole Krauss. Seeing Ershadi, The New Yorker (March 5, 2018). Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  45. ^ Nicole Krauss. Switzerland, The New Yorker (September 21, 2020). Retrieved December 2, 2020.
  46. ^ Nicole Krauss. To Be a Man, The Atlantic (October 2, 2020). Retrieved December 2, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]