Thursday, December 29, 2016

RIP Anita Brookner

I somehow missed the news that writer Anita Brookner died in March 2016 at the age of 87. (Thank you, John Williams, of the New York Times Book Review, on 12/25/16, for the information, and for your mention of reading four of her novels in 2016, and how you “loved all four.”) I have read Brookner’s novels on and off for decades. She writes exquisitely, usually focusing on women characters who are elegant and self-sufficient but fight loneliness; the tone of her writing is often bleak, even desolate. Her writing is somewhat autobiographical. A London writer whose family were Polish immigrants, she said that they were “transplanted and frail people, an unhappy brood” whom she felt the need to take care of. She had a successful career as an art historian and academic, only starting to publish novels in her early 50s. After that, though, she published a novel almost every year from 1981 to 2011. Her most well known novel, and one that won the Booker Prize in 1984, was “Hotel du Lac.” Although I have not read her novels for some years now, I can clearly remember the feeling of reading these depressing yet perfectly insightful and somehow crystalline and even exhilarating volumes. Reading her was a distinctive experience. So although I am late in acknowledging her death, I feel the need to pay my respects here.
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