Siri Hustvedt

Interview with Robert Birnbaum for Identity Theory
May 2003

Identity Theory

Interview with Robert Birnbaum for Identity Theory

What I Loved is the story, as narrated by art historian Leo Herzberg, of two men—Leo and his close friend artist Bill Wechsler—over a twenty-five-year span in the hothouse of the New York art world. Their marriages, their wives, their children’s fates, the tragedies they face are vividly and poignantly presented against a parade of ideas and themes on social interaction, eroticism, hysteria and personal identity. At the root of this novel is Hustvedt’s oft-stated fascination with "why do we become who we are?"

Robert Birnbaum: I’ve not read reviews of What I Loved, how do reviewers deal with the one "sudden and incapacitating tragedy" that occurs in this novel?
Siri Hustvedt: Most people have been very moved by that section of the book.

RB: Do they reveal what that tragedy is?
SH: Some have. You know, this book has been reviewed all over the place. So I don’t remember everything. It came out in England, in France and Germany. Some reviewers have revealed the story—I always wish that they wouldn’t. Many people have been very moved by the book—that moment where everything changes.

Read the whole interview.