Siri Hustvedt Interview: On Reading

In this short video, the critically-acclaimed writer Siri Hustvedt talks about how the best novels “deal with the ambiguity of human experience,” and compares the experience of reading to being possessed by another voice, arguing that this is why many men avoid reading books by women: “Because they have to submit themselves to the authority of a woman, and that feels emasculating.”

Hustvedt finds that a large part of popular culture is about slogans and stereotypes – providing simple answers to complicated problems. The novel, however, provides the reader with the opportunity to experience the “ambiguous reality of a whole other consciousness,” rather than reducing it to a slogan. When you read, it is impossible to occupy two places at once, as you have to withdraw from the book in order to reflect on what you’re reading: “You give up that ‘internal narrator’ for the book, for the other voice.” It’s like a possession that can potentially change you forever. However, Hustvedt goes on to say, this is sadly also why a lot of men don’t read books by women, as they – in contrast to women – have a need to dominate and find it “humiliating to be in a position of service to the other voice.”

Siri Hustvedt (b. 1955) is an American author and essayist who has written poetry, novels, essays, and works of non-fiction. Her books include ‘The Blindfold’ (1992), ‘What I Loved’ (2003), ‘The Sorrows of an American’ (2008), ‘The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves’ (2010), ‘The Summer Without Men’ (2011) and ‘The Blazing World’ (2014) for which she was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. In 2016 she published ‘A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind’. She holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University. Hustvedt lives in New York City. For more see:

Siri Hustvedt was interviewed by Anette Dina Sørensen at Hotel Rungstedgaard in Denmark in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in August 2017.

Camera: Klaus Elmer
Edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2018

Supported by Nordea-fonden



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