“From a contemporary master” Esquire and “one of America’s great writers” Financial Times comes a “superb new collection” New York Times that is “a sustained shot of brilliance” Boston Globe
A dazzling collection of short fiction in which “one of America’s most important novelists and an international literary sensation” (New York Times) explores what it means to be in a couple in these turbulent and unpredictable times.
In one of her most accomplished books yet, Nicole Krauss plunges fearlessly into the struggle to understand what it is to be a man and what it is to be a woman, and the arising tensions that have existed in all relationships from the very beginning of time. Set in our contemporary moment, and moving across the globe from Switzerland, Japan, and New York City to Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, and South America, the stories in To Be a Man feature male characters as fathers, lovers, friends, children, seducers, and even a lost husband who may never have been a husband at all.
The way these stories mirror one other and resonate is beautiful, with a balance so finely tuned that the book almost feels like a novel. Echoes ring through stages of life: aging parents and new-born babies; young women’s coming of age and the newfound, somewhat bewildering sexual power that accompanies it; generational gaps and unexpected deliveries of strange new leases on life; mystery and wonder at a life lived or a future waiting to unfold. To Be a Man illuminates with a fierce, unwavering light the forces driving human existence: sex, power, violence, passion, self-discovery, growing older. Profound, poignant, and brilliant, Krauss’s stories are at once startling and deeply moving, but always revealing of all-too-human weakness and strength.
Oprah Magazine’s 20 Best Books of 2020
Time Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2020
Financial Times Best Books of 2020
Esquire’s Best Books 2020
Wall Street Journal’s 11 Best Books of the Fall
Bustle’s Best Short Story Collections of 2020
From a contemporary master, an astounding collection of ten globetrotting stories, each one a powerful dissection of the thorny connections between men and women…Each story is masterfully crafted and deeply contemplative, barreling toward a shimmering, inevitable conclusion, proving once again that Krauss is one of our most formidable talents in fiction.
Superb…Birth and death, joy and mourning, love and heartbreak animate the collection. But as a writer Krauss is less interested in describing life’s grand explosions than she is in showing how people make sense of the rubble...Krauss’s refusal to adhere to formal conventions gives her stories a certain energy, consistently conjuring an aura of both intimacy and vastness…Krauss’s depictions of the nuances of sex and love, intimacy and dependence, call to mind the work of Natalia Ginzburg in their psychological profundity, their intellectual rigor…Krauss’s stories capture characters at moments in their lives when they’re hungry for experience and open to possibilities, and that openness extends to the stories themselves: narratives too urgent and alive for neat plotlines, simplistic resolutions or easy answers
A sustained shot of brilliance…By turns tight and exuberant, disciplined and expansive, the collection shimmers with insight and moments of perfectly realized beauty. It provokes unabashed laughter, in inspires profound thinking, it delights and disturbs in equal measure… Joy and woe are woven fine in this extraordinary book.
Feels like talking all night to a brilliant friend...Krauss imbues her prose with authoritative intensity. In short, her work feels lived…The strange urgency of Krauss’s art…continues to haunt a reader’s mind and heart.
A powerful new collection from one of America’s great writers... Are you paying attention? Really paying attention? Nicole Krauss, one of the great novelists working today, has never shied away from asking the big questions. But as her new collection of short stories shows,her power lies not simply in her own ability to interrogate life — but in the way she calls on her readers to do the same.
These stories put Krauss's lyric, precise prose — and, more importantly, her inquisitive and unsparing mind — on full display...The title story is at once moving and pitiless. It is a daring story even in the context of a daring collection, and it proves wholly that aesthetic simplicity has not reduced the scope of Krauss's intellectual and creative powers at all.
To Be a Man" offers the pleasure of being in the company of Krauss's surprising, challenging mind, tugged along by an imagination that's ever curious about the limits and possibilities of fiction, of time, and of love... A collection of wonders.
How much do we really know ourselves and each other? These questions linger long after the final pages of this supremely intelligent collection.
This triumphant first collection from Krauss crisscrosses the globe in 10 ambitious stories written over two decades that wrestle with sexuality, desire, and human connection... This is a spectacular book.
This collection of stories from Krauss is a wonder, with the author’s signature straddling of the tragic and the absurd, her particularly Jewish frame of reference, and the extraordinary range of her narrative voice…A tremendous collection from an immensely talented writer.
All ten stories have the quality of waking dreams—an otherworldly stillness—and examine why we are drawn to another, how excruciating it is to let go of a parent who’s died, or the moments when instinct overrules reason…they are united by Krauss’s unparalleled ability to convert what at first seem like digressions into crescendos of the sublime.
[Krauss's] latest short-story collection reads like a catalog of her maturation, covering years of work that delves into the mysteries of relationships and sexuality. 'Future Emergencies,' first published in 2002, is set after 9/11 and depicts a New York haunted by vague warnings and mask-wearing; its resonance is chilling. The more recent 'I Am Asleep but My Heart Is Awake' is a devastating tale of grief. In every story, tiny details and emotional acuity provide a vivid look at how life goes on.
What defines a life well-lived?...Krauss winningly explores these and other weighty issues in a home run of a short story collection…Above all, these stories pay homage to strong women. As female characters mature, they find resilience in the power they wield despite societal constraints.
Deeply satisfying…Each tale bends the formal possibilities of the short story in a pleasurably elastic way. Krauss’ ability to tackle novel-worthy subjects at compact length is particularly bracing.
Krauss’s first story collection succinctly but brilliantly examines sex, power, violence, passion, self-discovery and growing older through unforgettable characters in contemporary New York City, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Geneva, Kyoto, Japan and Southern California… Krauss is incredibly adept at portraying novel-worthy characters in this much shorter form.
Brilliant, beautifully-crafted… Many of the stories examine the ethical, emotional, and experiential legacies that parents and friends pass on to the next generation…With exceptional precision, concision, grace, wisdom, and insight, Nicole Krauss creates a magnificent collection of stories that explore what the narrator effectively asks her son in the last lines of the final tale: Who will you be?
Many of the themes that appear in the rest of Krauss’ oeuvre are also present here: the tensions between community and isolation, between religious legacy and individual freedom, between the needs of the body and the desires of the mind.…To Be a Man is a collection to get lost in. And when one emerges on the other side, the world still shimmers with possibility.
A beautiful, unique book…The stories are realist in approach but there’s a ruminating quality that reminds me of Patrick Modiano’s prose…Krauss’s creative framing, perspective, focus on love, sex, motherhood, and foreign lands are the common elements found throughout this extraordinary collection…While the unknown haunts these stories, perhaps the most significant consideration for Krauss is the concept of love as union…The idea of the independent woman is a firm stronghold in the stories, but also, the loss of companionship.
Encapsulates Krauss’s literary prowess at elevating the ordinary life into the realm of the extraordinary ... As a calling card for the novels, this collection delivers a strong indication of how electrifying her writing can be. It also holds its own, however, as a powerful literary body in its own right – a nuanced, provocative exploration on what it means to be human.
In a first collection, National Book Award finalist Krauss uses superbly controlled language to investigate how we become who we are… Small gems, large ideas; highly recommended
In To Be a Man, Krauss’s short fiction proves as elegantly crafted as her novels, brimming with penetrating understanding of the complex dynamics of modern families, and characters whose struggles with difficult truths ultimately challenge and enrich the reader’s own world.