December 2020 Greenlight First Editions Club Selection
In this dazzling collection of short fiction, the National Book Award Finalist and New York Times bestselling author of The History of Love—“one of America’s most important novelists and an international literary sensation” (New York Times)—explores what it means to be in a couple, and to be a man and a woman in that perplexing relationship and beyond.
In one of her strongest works of fiction 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 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.
About the Author
Nicole Krauss is the author of the novels Forest Dark, Great House, The History of Love, and Man Walks Into a Room. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, and The Best American Short Stories, and her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages. She is currently the inaugural writer-in-residence at Columbia University’s Mind, Brain, and Behavior Institute. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“This triumphant first collection from Nicole 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.”
— Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"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."
— Library Journal (starred review)
“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.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“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.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“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.”