Siri Hustvedt

Memories of the Future review in The Guardian
Mar 2019

The Guardian

Memories of the Future review in The Guardian

Writing for Britain's Guardian newspaper Sarah Crown writes: "A novelist looks back at her younger self in 1970s New York in this smart investigation of misogyny, authority and the nature of fiction."

"The narrator of Siri Hustvedt’s latest novel describes it as a “portrait of the artist as a young woman”. Now 61, and an established author, she’s clearing out her mother’s apartment when she comes across the journal she kept aged 23, when she arrived in New York from rural Minnesota. Reading it she finds herself delivered back into the deep furrows and jagged edges of a time that the intervening years seemed to have smoothed out. From this point, the novel unspools in a series of interwoven threads: extracts from the journal are set against the present-day reflections of the author – initials SH – and both are intercut with chunks of the novel that SH had gone to New York to write.

"As the strands twist together, and present and past echo and amplify one another, a series of atemporal themes begin to emerge: the incomprehensibility of time and the fragility of memory; the strengths, failings and enigmas of fiction; misogyny, authority, entitlement and selfhood. Memories of the Future is a portrait of the artist, certainly, and of New York in the 1970s, which Hustvedt joyously depicts as hot, dirty and cacophonous. But it’s also far more than that. As layered as a millefeuille, as dense and knotted as tapestry, it feels, by the time you reach the final pages, less like a novel and more like an intellectual reckoning; an act of investigation into how, as a woman, it is possible to live well in the world, and enter effectively into the conversation about it." Read the full review.