The protagonist in esteemed writer Claire Messud’s latest novel, Nora Eldridge is a 37-year-old elementary school teacher who long ago abandoned her ambition to be an artist— and has become “The Woman Upstairs,” a reliable friend and tidy neighbor always on the edge of others’ achievements. This masterly novel is the riveting confession of a woman awakened, transformed and betrayed by a desire for a world beyond her own. Messud will appear in DUMBO on Feb. 3 to celebrate the paperback launch of “The Woman Upstairs” at powerHouse Arena in conversation with her editor, Robin Desser.
Everything changes for Nora when a new student arrives in her classroom. Reza Shahid and his parents—dashing Skandar, a Lebanese scholar and professor, and Sirena, an effortlessly glamorous Italian artist—draw Nora into the complex world of their family, and she finds herself falling in love with them, separately and together. Nora’s happiness explodes her boundaries, until Sirena’s careless ambition leads to a shattering betrayal. Told with urgency, intimacy, and piercing emotion, this story of obsession and artistic fulfillment explores the thrill-and the devastating cost-of surrendering to one’s passions.
The Feb. 3 event will begin at 7 p.m. powerHouse Arena is located at 37 Main St. in DUMBO.
Claire Messud’s previous novel, “The Emperor’s Children,” was a New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Her first novel, “When the World Was Steady,” and her book of novellas, “The Hunters,” were finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award; her second novel, The Last Life, was a PW Best Book of the Year and Editor’s Choice at The Village Voice. All four books were New York Times Notables. She has received Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.