‘The Sorrows Of An American’ tells the story of psychiatrist Erik Davidsen who finds a mysterious letter from an unknown woman in his recently deceased father’s papers. Here starts Erik and his sister’s journey into their father’s past life, through his diaries and interviews with old family members – all immigrants from Norway. But the story develops and it combines the story of Norwegian immigrants in America with contemporary American sufferings.
Siri Hustvedt is an interesting writer and it especially shows when she ties the stories together in a psychological perspective. The issues are heavy – 9.11, psychotic harassment, childhood traumas and more, but Hustvedt delivers it all in a light and simple language keeping the focus on the characters – thus a personal perspective.
The characters are vivid and described beautifully, to such a degree that you feel know them. And you easily imagine what they look like.What I appreciated the most about the book is its delicate balance between the deep and complex sorrows of death, heartbreak and terrorism and the descriptions of ordinary life. Siri Hustvedt’s writing is intense – the novel has no chapters - but for some reason she maters the art of making the reading experience fresh and crisp.