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Ottessa Moshfegh

Acclaimed author of Rest and Relaxation and Death in Her Hands

  • About Ottessa Moshfegh

    Ottessa Moshfegh has been heralded as one of the boldest voices in fiction since the publication of her debut novella, McGlue, a work of historical fiction released shortly after she earned her MFA from Brown University. McGlue was the inaugural winner of the Fence Modern Prize for Prose, received the Believer Book Award, and was optioned for film by Vice with a screenplay adaption written by Moshfegh.

    The success of McGlue quickly earned Ottessa Moshfegh a reputation as a uniquely daring writer, cemented by her next novel, the noir-inspired Eileen. An audacious plunge into the mind of a one-of-a-kind outcast, Eileen was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction. It is now a major motion picture, starring Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie, with the screenplay by Moshfegh and Luke Goebel.

    Her short story collection, Homesick for Another World, received numerous accolades, including being named a finalist for the prestigious Story Prize. Homesick for Another World was again highlighted in The New York Times in 2018 as one of the best books written by a female author in the 21st Century, with Ottessa Moshfegh herself being named part of the “New Vanguard” of women who are propelling literature forward with their work. Her novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, is a darkly comic story about a young woman’s efforts to duck the ills of the world by embarking on an extended hibernation. It was named a best book of the year by multiple publications, including The Washington PostThe New York Times, and Entertainment Weekly, among other outlets. Moshfegh continues to showcase her literary creativity in Death in Her Hands, a novel of haunting metaphysical suspense about an elderly widow whose life is upturned when she finds an ominous note on a walk in the woods. Her upcoming novel, Lapvona, takes an exciting leap into a medieval fiefdom buffeted by natural disasters, in this spellbinding story about a motherless shepherd boy that finds himself in the unlikely pivot of a power struggle.

    Originally from Boston, Ottessa Moshfegh now lives in Los Angeles. She has received the Pushcart Prize, the O. Henry Award, and a Plimpton Prize from The Paris Review for her short fiction as well as a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A prolific essayist, Moshfegh’s work has appeared in outlets including Vice, The New Yorker, Granta, and various online journals.

    Contact us for more information about booking Ottessa Moshfegh for your next event. 

  • Speaking Topics

    An Evening with Ottessa Moshfegh

    Acclaimed writer Ottessa Moshfegh reveals the craft and inspiration behind her diverse body of work which spans novellas, novels, and short stories. As forthright as a speaker as she is a writer, Moshfegh showcases the deliberation and care behind her writing process and invites audiences into a truly extraordinary literary mind.

  • Video

  • Praise for Ottessa Moshfegh

    Praise for Lapvona

    No one is quite who he first seems in the latest wicked tale from macabre master Moshfegh . . . Sculpting an eerily canny fabular world of contrasts and evil, cartoonish cruelty, in her signature way, Moshfegh conjures a grotesque, disturbing story of gross inequality and senseless strife.


    At once immensely alien and deeply human, Moshfegh’s latest is a brutal, inventive novel about the ways that stories and the act of storytelling shape us and articulate our world.

    Library Journal (starred review)

    Deliriously quirky medieval tale . . . Moshfegh brings her trademark fascination with the grotesque to depictions of the pandemic, inequality, and governmental corruption, making them feel both uncanny and all too familiar. It’s a triumph.

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    One of America’s most celebrated authors continues her exploration of what fiction has to offer with a further digression from the standard realist purview and into fantasy. Lapvona promises to chronicle the life of Ina, a blind midwife in a medieval village. Ina’s talent doesn’t stop at childcare, and allows her a special connection with the surrounding natural world. It’s a fascinating premise, and I’m excited to see the yarn Moshfegh is able to weave.

    Chicago Review of Books

    Praise for Death in Her Hands

    Moshfegh, known for her screwball subversions of genre tropes and her gleefully grotesque sensibility, here offers a thriller that glitters with jagged details and unfolds mostly inside the protagonist’s head.

    The New Yorker

    “[Death in Her Hands] has an afterlife in your mind. From a distance, you can savor its trap doors.”

    The New York Times

    Ottessa Moshfegh, the authorial doyenne of hermits and eccentrics, misanthropes and recluses, is back with another novel narrated by an alienated and alienating woman whose uncanny, idiosyncratic voice compels us to read. Death in Her Hands is at once a satire of and metafictional commentary on the mystery/crime genre, a study of trauma’s effect on the psyche, and a reflection on the creative process . . . [a] striking and original contribution to Moshfegh’s remarkable oeuvre.

    Boston Globe

    Ottessa Moshfegh is far too interesting a writer to be concerned with the problem-solving at the heart of most mysteries. She prefers questions to answers, and dwelling on what’s mysterious. The concerns that animate Death in Her Hands will be familiar to readers of her other books, including her 2018 bestseller My Year of Rest and Relaxation. What, for example, does it mean to exist in a body? How should one sensibly spend a day? Just how insidious is it to be loved poorly? And what does madness look like when so much of the world seems insane? . . . Ms. Moshfegh has a talent for first-person narratives that feel fresh, strange, unreliable and amusing.

    Wall Street Journal

    From her bracing debut novel, Eileen to her breakout 2018 hit, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Moshfegh has perfected an enervating, claustrophobic style in which complex anti-heroines seek escape through fantasy or delusion. Her latest novel, Death in Her Hands continues in this vein, depositing a recognizable, Moshfegh-ian protagonist into a twisting, satirical murder mystery.

    WBUR Radio

    Ottessa Moshfegh is always a must-read, and her latest combines ‘horror, suspense and pitch-black comedy’ to deliver a fascinating tale guided by an unreliable narrator.

    Paste, 25 Most Anticipated Novels of 2020

    This is not a drill: Ottessa Moshfegh has a new book coming out in 2020. Death in Her Hands, a novel about a woman who finds a haunting note in the woods, is unlike anything else you’ll read all year. It’s Moshfegh at her darkest and sharpest.

    HelloGiggles, Most Anticipated Books of 2020

    Praise for My Year of Rest and Relaxation

    If she’s on downers, the prose in “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” is mostly on uppers. Like its narrator, this is a remorseless little machine. Moshfegh’s sentences are piercing and vixenish, each one a kind of orphan. She plays interestingly with substance and illusion, with dread and solace on the installment plan. This book builds subtly toward the events of Sept. 11 . . . Moshfegh writes with so much misanthropic aplomb, however, that she is always a deep pleasure to read. She has a sleepless eye and dispenses observations as if from a toxic eyedropper.

    Dwight Garner, The New York Times

    Moshfegh’s ear remains as merciless as ever. Like a latter-day Flaubert, she delights in vanity and mediocrity, and in the absurdist heights both can reach whenever the occasion calls for a few sincere words.

    Harper’s Magazine

    Moshfegh has a keen sense of everyday absurdities, a deadpan delivery, and such a well-honed sense of irony that the narrator’s predicament never feels tragic; this may be the finest existential novel not written by a French author. . . . A nervy modern-day rebellion tale that isn’t afraid to get dark or find humor in the darkness.

    Kirkus, starred review

    You’ll emerge from this darkly hilarious novel not necessarily rested or relaxed but more finely attuned to how delicately fraught the human condition can be.

    Marie Claire

    Darkly hilarious . . . [Moshfegh’s] the kind of provocateur who makes you laugh out loud while drawing blood.


    Praise for Homesick for Another World

    Homesick for Another World showcases her mastery with tales of a range of creeps and weirdos in despair… This cast of boors may not be the kind of folks readers would seek out to spend time with in real life. But in Moshfegh’s stories, their company is irresistible.


    These stories are Moshfegh’s deepest, darkest moments of introspection. Let them in.

    Electric Literature

    Stunning short story collection . . . There’s not a story in Homesick for Another World that’s anything less than original and perfectly constructed. Moshfegh’s talent is unique, and her characters — unfiltered, cold, frequently pathetic — are all the more memorable for their faults and obliviousness. Anyone who’s experienced the special kind of homesickness that lacks a home will find something to relate to in Moshfegh’s unsettling, sharp stories


    Homesick for Another World will scorch you like a blowtorch.

    John Waters, New York Times Book Review

    On second and third reading, these stories reveal coils of plain language and quick narratives tight as songs. What is at first urgent and disorienting becomes a hymn, improving with repetition, all of it worth memorizing.

    The Village Voice

    I can’t recall the last time I laughed this hard at a book. Simultaneously, I’m shocked and scandalized. She’s brilliant, this young woman.

    David Sedaris

    A fluent, deeply talented artist . . . Moshfegh quickly established herself as an important new voice in the literary world, and her concerns for those isolated not only in the margins of society but within the physical confines of the body itself mirrored the work of brilliant predecessors like Mary Gaitskill, Christine Schutt and, in some ways, Eileen Myles. Homesick for Another World continues that exploration but with a wider range, over a larger landscape. It’s a paradox that in order to locate a sense of national character—and that ever-elusive American dream—art must continually probe the places where that dream seems to have all but disappeared.

    The New York Times Book Review

    Praise for Eileen

    The young heroine—if you can call her that—of Ottessa Moshfegh’s chilling debut is exactly the kind of woman whom noir authors tended to summarily ignore. Think of her as a Flannery O’Connor character wandering around a Raymond Chandler novel . . . Moshfegh uses that carefully constructed foundation to build a truly shocking ending, one you’ll never see coming. It’s hard to believe she’s a first-time novelist, so skillfully has she grafted disparate genre elements onto one another: psychological suspense, horror, obsession, and madness. Eileen is as twisted, dark, and unexpected as its title character.

    Entertainment Weekly

    If Jim Thompson had married Patricia Highsmith – imagine that household – they might have conspired together to dream up something like Eileen. It’s blacker than black and cold as an icicle. It’s also brilliantly realised and horribly funny.

    John Banville

    Charmingly disturbing. Delightfully dour. Pleasingly perverse. These are some of the oxymorons that ran through my mind as I read Eileen, Ottessa Moshfegh’s intense, flavorful, remarkable new novel. ‘Funny awful’ might be another one. I marveled at myself for enjoying the scenes I was witnessing, and wondered what dark magic the author had employed to make me smile at them.


    The great power of this book, which won the PEN/Hemingway debut fiction award last month, is that Eileen is never simply a literary gargoyle; she is painfully alive and human, and Ottessa Moshfegh writes her with a bravura wildness that allows flights of expressionistic fantasy to alternate with deadpan matter of factness…As an evocation of physical and psychological squalor, Eileen is original, courageous and masterful.

    The Guardian

    Eileen is anything but generic. Eileen is as vivid and human as they come . . . Moshfegh . . . writes beautiful sentences. One after the other they unwind — playful, shocking, wise, morbid, witty, searingly sharp. The beginning of this novel is so impressive, so controlled yet whimsical, fresh and thrilling, you feel she can do anything . . . There is that wonderful tension between wanting to slow down and bathe in the language and imagery, and the impulse to race to see what happens, how it happens.

    The New York Times Book Review

    What makes Moshfegh an important writer—and I’d even say crucial—is that she is unlike any other author (male, female, Iranian, American, etc.). And this sui generis quality is cemented by the singular savage suburban noir of Eileen. . . . Here is art that manages to reject artifice and yet be something wholly new and itself in sheer artistry.

    The Los Angeles Times

    Eileen is a remarkable piece of writing, always dark and surprising, sometimes ugly and occasionally hilarious. Its first-person narrator is one of the strangest, most messed-up, most pathetic—and yet, in her own inimitable way, endearing—misfits I’ve encountered in fiction. Trust me, you have never read anything remotely like Eileen.

    The Washington Post
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