Media Center: ‘Woman Upstairs’ by Claire Messud

Media Center: ‘Woman Upstairs’ by Claire Messud

WHO: Claire Messud


WHEN: Published by Knopf April 30, 2013

WHERE: Author tour to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto

“Brilliant and terrifying…an astonishing feat of creative imagination.

“A self-described ‘good girl’ lifts her mask in Messud’s scarifying new novel. Nora Eldridge is furious with her dead mother, her elderly father and her estranged brother, none of whom seem to have done anything very terrible. Basically, Nora is furious with herself: for failing to commit to being an artist, for settling for life as a third-grade teacher in Cambridge, Mass., for lacking the guts even to be openly enraged. Instead, she is the woman upstairs, ‘whose trash is always tidy, who smiles brightly in the stairwell.’
“So when the exotic Shahid family enters her life in the fall of 2004, Nora sees them as saviors. Reza is in her class; after another student attacks and calls the half-Lebanese boy ‘a terrorist,’ she meets his Italian mother, Sirena, the kind of bold, assertive artist Nora longs to be. They wind up sharing a studio. She’s also drawn to Skandar, an academic whose one-year fellowship has brought his family to Cambridge from Paris.
Jacket photo“The story unfolds to reveal Sirena as something of a user—and perhaps Skandar too, though it’s unwise to credit Nora’s jaundiced perceptions. Her untrustworthy, embittered narration, deliberately set up as a feminine counterpoint to the rantings of Dostoevsky’s Underground Man, is an astonishing feat of creative imagination: at once self-lacerating and self-pitying, containing enough truth to induce squirms.
“Messud persuasively plunges us into the tortured psyche of a conflicted soul whose defiant closing assertion inspires little confidence that Nora can actually change her ways.”

“An acid bath of a novel…a tour de force.
Claire Messud’s scorching social anatomy, red-hot psychology, galvanizing story, and incandescent language make for an all-circuits- firing novel about enthrallment, ambition, envy, and betrayal.” —Donna Seaman in a starred review for BOOKLIST

Media Resources:
About the book | About the author | Read an excerpt | Download the jacket or the author photo | Listen to the RH Audio

Publicist for this title:
Erinn Hartman | 212-572-2345 |