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Claire Messud

Journalist, teacher, and celebrated novelist

  • About Claire Messud

    Claire Messud was born in the United States in 1966 to a French father and a Canadian mother, and was raised in Sydney, Australia, and Toronto, Canada, before returning to the States in 1980. Educated at Yale and Cambridge universities, she lived in London until 1995, where she was deputy editor of The Guardian‘s Women’s Page.

    Claire has taught at various colleges and universities, including Amherst College and Kenyon College, and in the MFA program at Warren Wilson College. She has written reviews and articles for numerous publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, The Daily Telegraph (London), The Times (London), and The Times Literary Supplement.

    Claire Messud’s 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 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Editor’s Choice at The Village Voice. All three were New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Her most recent novel,The Woman Upstairs, was on several best books of the year lists, including the Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, Goodreads, Washington Post, and theNew York Times 100 Notable Books of 2013. Her most recent book, The Burning Girl, was released in August 2017.  She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, and the Straus Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and children.

  • Speaking Topics

    The Woman Upstairs

    The Emperor's Children

    When the World Was Steady

    The Last Life

  • Video

  • Praise for Claire Messud


    Claire Messud was wonderful.  She is so erudite and personable.  And she is very approachable and generous with her time.

    Northern Trust, Chicago

    Praise for The Burning Girl

    Emotionally intense and quietly haunting,

    Kirkus (starred review)

    Messud’s entrancing, gorgeously incisive coming-of-age drama astutely tracks the sharpening perceptions of an exceptionally eloquent young woman navigating heartbreak and regret and realizing that one can never fathom ‘the wild, unknowable interior lives’ of others, not even someone you love.

    Booklist (starred review)

    [An] intense coming-of-age novel. . . . Messud captures the complicated nature of contemporary adolescence through a nuanced portrait of childhood love and loyalty deteriorating under the pressure of approaching adulthood.


    Slim but impactful . . . . The Burning Girl asks how well we can ever know our closest confidants and answers its own question with every refined page.

    Vanity Fair

    Claire Messud is one of our foremost chroniclers of women's hidden appetites.

    Ruth Franklin, New York Times Magazine
  • Books by Claire Messud

  • Media About Claire Messud

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  • Claire Messud travels from Boston, MA

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