Great House



New York Times Bestseller

Finalist for the 2010 National Book Award in Fiction

Winner of the 2011 ABA Indies Choice Honor Award in Fiction

Winner of the 2011 Anisfield-Wolf Award

Shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize in Fiction

For twenty-five years, a reclusive American novelist has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young Chilean poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet’s secret police; one day a girl claiming to be the poet’s daughter arrives to take it away, sending the writer’s life reeling. Across the ocean, in the leafy suburbs of London, a man caring for his dying wife discovers, among her papers, a lock of hair that unravels a terrible secret. In Jerusalem, an antiques dealer slowly reassembles his father’s study, plundered by the Nazis in Budapest in 1944.

Connecting these stories is a desk of many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or have given it away. As the narrators of Great House make their confessions, the desk takes on more and more meaning, and comes finally to stand for all that has been taken from them, and all that binds them to what has disappeared.

Great House is a story haunted by questions: What do we pass on to our children and how do they absorb our dreams and losses? How do we respond to disappearance, destruction, and change?

Nicole Krauss has written a soaring, powerful novel about memory struggling to create a meaningful permanence in the face of inevitable loss.


One of America's most important novelists and an international literary sensation.

Sam Tanenhaus, New York Times Book Review

Reverberates with emotional intensity. Here [Krauss] gives us her tragic vision pure. It is a high-wire performance, only the wire has been replaced by an exposed nerve, and you hold your breath, and she does not fall.

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, The New York Times Book Review

Masterful…Extraordinary…a brilliantly orchestrated, mesmerizing whole that explores memory, solitude and an aching sense of loss and longing. Evocative and moving.

Helen McAlpin, NPR

The most heartbreaking part of Great House, the third novel by Nicole Krauss, is having to finish it…As the mysteries of this beautifully written novel come spooling out, you'll marvel at how profoundly one brilliantly crafted metaphor involving a mute wooden artifact can remind us what it means to be alive.


The voice sweeps you up…beautiful and mysterious. Krauss's understanding of the varieties of human suffering—exceptional in a writer so young—makes the experience of her characters resonate in us. Their stunningly distinct and lively voices hold us captive…Krauss, who began her career as a poet, can do just about anything she wants with the English language.

Ann Harleman, The Boston Globe

Such an ambitious, disturbing, brave, provocative work, one fears unfairly reducing it in a brief review. While her prior, much-vaunted novel, The History of Love, was certainly fresh and winning, Great House strikes me as a richer, more seasoned exploration of the themes and images that bedevil Krauss —a graver investigation, deserving a more serious admiration... Every page vibrates with the tension of something unsolvable insisting on being solved…Krauss' sentences are so beautiful, rendered in such simple, clear language, I had to stop to reread many. Though they often describe inchoate anguish, their clarity and precision exhilarate.

Joan Frank, The San Francisco Chronicle

Stunning…I was captivated by the first chapter and never disappointed thereafter. The richness of invention, the beauty of the prose, the aptness of her central images, the depth of feeling: who would not be moved?

Andrea Barrett

Krauss writes of her characters' despair with striking lucidity…an eloquent dramatization of the need to find that missing piece that will give life its meaning

Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

A novel that transports the reader on an impressive three-continent odyssey that is at once as mystical and wrenching as it is uplifting.. .Krauss deftly weaves the disparate catalysts together in a mosaic brilliant with sublime imagery. In page after page, Krauss digs deep, lyrically and profoundly, and never disappoints…In a novel of this magnitude, plot is often sacrificed…Not so in Great House, a novel that unfolds as gently as petals falling from a flower as it builds toward a conclusion worthy of a book destined to take its place among the best works of the year.

Steve Giegerich, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

[A] brave new novel…[Krauss] has written one of the most lyrical novels I've read in a long time…"Great House" courageously wrestles with unimaginable, truly unspeakable loss, teaching us the difference between letting go and forgetting—and how to remember where we're from without losing sight of where we're going

Mike Fischer, The Journal Sentinel

Krauss' masterful rendition of character is breathtaking, compelling… This tour de force of fiction writing will deeply satisfy fans of the author's first two books and bring her legions more.

Booklist, starred review

There is a beautiful sort of logic to the way its pattern unfolds—like a song, heard for the first time and yet strangely familiar. ..Her latest suggests her as [Philip] Roth's most likely literary heir. With Great House, anyhow, Krauss has made an undeniable bid for literary greatness.

Yevgeniya Traps, New York Press

Delayed revelation is one of the author's signatures, and in this, her third novel, she manages it with satisfying élan…Krauss' organic scenes soar, she is stunning.

Karen R. Long, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

A complex, richly imagined new novel…Mesmerizing…Krauss aims to explicate, not the underlying implications of her characters' behavior, but the very cycles of history…It's a daunting undertaking, one that not every writer under 40 would choose or can do justice to, but Krauss's talent runs deep. And she cannot write a bad sentence: pound for pound, the sentences alone deliver epiphany upon epiphany.

Janet Byrne, The Huffington Post

Although most of her characters are prisoners of the past, Krauss herself is a fiction pioneer, toying with fresh ways of rendering experience and emotion, giving us readers the thrill of seeing the novel stretched into amorphous new shapes.

Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

Imagine a surprising, breathtaking panorama, captured in four adjacent Polaroids developing at different speeds that only reveal the full view at the last moment, and you have a feel for the patient mastery of Krauss's achievement.

The Atlantic, 'Best Book of 2010'

Both philosophical and riveting…the pervasive sense of loss, the yearning for second chances, particularly in love, make this book an emotionally vibrant meditation on trauma and healing…It's this unrelenting combination of intellectualism and emotion that kept me hooked


Its beauty runs thick on each page…Heartbreakingly real pathos and sadness… In Great House, a finalist for the National Book Award, Krauss gives us nothing less than a reminder of why we read fiction in the first place.

Jeff Baker, The Oregonian

Surely if there is one book each author is meant to write, then there might also be one book each reader is meant to read. For plenty of fans out there, Great House just might be that book.

Book Page

A remarkable new novel…Krauss builds a consuming rush of a novel, far more organic and eloquent than her much-lauded The History of Love (2005)…[She] sweeps us in.


This stunning work showcases Krauss's consistent talent…A formidable and haunting mosaic of loss and profound sorrow.

Publishers Weekly, starred review

In Great House, Nicole Krauss has built a monument to the art of the novel. She reminds readers of the limitless restraints of a novelist, and in four connected stories manages to break down all notions of form and expectation to create a work that is so exceptional and ambitious that it is nothing short of a triumph…Such an emotional and complex novel…is truly a marvel.

[Great House] depends... on Krauss's astounding capacity for creating empathetic and fully imagined characters… Krauss's remarkable achievement with Great House is to atomize the essential isolation that is part of the human condition and reflect it back to us in a way that makes us feel a little less alone.

The Barnes and Noble Review

Nicole Krauss has assembled a somber, riveting meditation on the place of things in our lives…She has introduced fantastical details into harrowing, philosophizing prose…It is hugely sophisticated. It is frightening, it induces a form of wonder

Beth Kephart Books

Krauss has a unique way of assembling novels—baroque, complex, and with stunning tidiness that isn't clear until the very last page. All the parts do fit together in the end. The shape they form is the ghastly Great House, and its walls are ideas that leave the reader reverberating.

The Atlantic

The prodigious talent of the 36-year-old writer manages to incorporate so many voices, characters, and plots into her prose without it ever feeling as if she's over-sold the house…Krauss's breathtaking ability to make believable narrators out of not-always-sympathetic human beings is alone deserving of her National Book Award nomination for fiction.

Christopher Bollen, Interview Magazine

Exquisite…Krauss is a poetic stylist whose prose gives tremendous weight to her characters' pain and struggles.

Sharon Dilworth, The Philadelphia Inquirer

She is an author that has impacted our culture

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, The Wall Street Journal

Already clobbered all comers in the all-important review sweepstakes, eliciting a virtual orgy of approval among early readers.

The Globe and Mail

An ethereal mystery…For reader who love beautiful language and complex characters, Great House will be hard to put down.

Ellen Shapiro, People Magazine

[Krauss is] capable of gorgeous sentences and deeply felt moments painting from a rich, vibrant palette of human emotion

St. Louis Magazine

Explores both the fragile ties that bond us together and the indestructible objects that ground us…Krauss' prose brings gifts on every page….

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times