Author bio

Sigrid Nunez

Sigrid Nunez - book author

Sigrid Nunez has published seven novels, including A Feather on the Breath of God, The Last of Her Kind, Salvation City, and, most recently, The Friend. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Among the journals to which she has contributed are The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, Threepenny Review, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, Tin House, and The Believer. Her work has also appeared in several anthologies, including four Pushcart Prize volumes and four anthologies of Asian American literature.

Sigrid’s honors and awards include a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship, and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters: the Rosenthal Foundation Award and the Rome Prize in Literature. She has taught at Columbia, Princeton, Boston University, and the New School, and has been a visiting writer or writer in residence at Amherst, Smith, Baruch, Vassar, and the University of California, Irvine, among others. In spring, 2019, she will be visiting writer at Syracuse University. Sigrid has also been on the faculty of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and of several other writers’ conferences across the country. She lives in New York City.

Sigrid Nunez is the author of books: The Friend, The Last of Her Kind, Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag, Salvation City, A Feather on the Breath of God, For Rouenna, Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury, Naked Sleeper, LitMag: Issue 02, Chang

Author books

A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.

When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog's care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.

Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year

Sigrid Núñez's The Last of Her Kind introduces two women who meet as freshmen on the Columbia campus in 1968. Georgette George does not know what to make of her brilliant, idealistic roommate, Ann Drayton, and her obsessive disdain for the ruling class into which she was born. She is mortified by Ann's romanticization of the underprivileged class, which Georgette herself is hoping college will enable her to escape. After the violent fight that ends their friendship, Georgette wants only to forget Ann and to turn her attention to the troubled runaway kid sister who has reappeared after years on the road. Then, in 1976, Ann is convicted of murder. At first, Ann's fate appears to be the inevitable outcome of her belief in the moral imperative to "make justice" in a world where "there are no innocent white people." But, searching for answers to the riddle of this friend of her youth, Georgette finds more complicated and mysterious forces at work.

The novel's narrator Georgette illuminates the terrifying life of this difficult, doomed woman, and in the process discovers how much their early encounter has determined her own path, and why, decades later, as she tells us, "I have never stopped thinking about her."
Sigrid Núñez was an aspiring writer when she first met Susan Sontag, already a legendary figure known for her polemical essays, blinding intelligence, and edgy personal style. Sontag introduced Núñez to her son, the writer David Rieff, and the two began dating. Soon Núñez moved into the apartment that Rieff and Sontag shared. As Sontag told Núñez, “Who says we have to live like everyone else?”

Sontag’s influence on Núñez, who went on to become a successful novelist, would be profound. Described by Núñez as “a natural mentor,” who saw educating others as both a moral obligation and a source of endless pleasure, Sontag inevitably infected those around her with her many cultural and intellectual passions. In this poignant, intimate memoir, Núñez speaks of her gratitude for having had, as an early model, “someone who held such an exalted, unironic view of the writer’s vocation.” For Sontag, she writes, “there could be no nobler pursuit, no greater adventure, no more rewarding quest.” Núñez gives a sharp sense of the charged, polarizing atmosphere that enveloped Sontag whenever she published a book, gave a lecture, or simply walked into a room. Published more than six years after Sontag’s death, Sempre Susan is a startlingly truthful portrait of this outsized personality, who made being an intellectual a glamorous occupation.
From the critically acclaimed author of "The Last of Her Kind", a breakout novel that imagines the aftermath of pandemic flu, as seen through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old boy uncertain of his destiny.

His family's sole survivor after a flu pandemic has killed large numbers of people worldwide, Cole Vining is lucky to have found refuge with the evangelical Pastor Wyatt and his wife in a small town in southern Indiana. As the world outside has grown increasingly anarchic, Salvation City has been spared much of the devastation, and its residents have renewed their preparations for the Rapture.

Grateful for the shelter and love of his foster family (and relieved to have been saved from the horrid, overrun orphanages that have sprung up around the country), Cole begins to form relationships within the larger community. But despite his affection for this place, he struggles with memories of the very different world in which he was reared. Is there room to love both Wyatt and his parents? Are they still his parents if they are no longer there? As others around him grow increasingly fixated on the hope of salvation and the new life to come through the imminent Rapture, Cole begins to conceive of a different future for himself, one in which his own dreams of heroism seem within reach.

Written in Sigrid Nunez's deceptively simple style, "Salvation City" is a story of love, betrayal, and forgiveness, weaving the deeply affecting story of a young boy's transformation with a profound meditation on the meaning of belief and heroism.
A young woman looks back to the world of her immigrant parents: a Chinese-Panamanian father and a German mother. Growing up in a housing project in the 1950s and 1960s, she escapes into dreams inspired both by her parents' stories and by her own reading and, for a time, into the otherworldly life of ballet. A yearning, homesick mother, a silent and withdrawn father, the ballet--these are the elements that shape the young woman's imagination and her sexuality. It is a story about displacement and loss, and about the tangled nature of relationships between parents and children, between language and love.
From one of the most celebrated novelists of her generation, the story of a woman in the Vietnam War

"After my first book was published, I received some letters." So begins Sigrid Nunez's haunting novel about the poignant and unusual friendship between a writer and a retired army nurse who seeks her out decades after their childhood in the same housing project. Among the letters the narrator receives is one from a Rouenna Zycinski, recalling their old connection and asking if they can meet.Though fascinated by the stories Rouenna tells about her life as a combat nurse in Vietnam, the narrator flatly declines her request that they collaborate on a memoir. It is only later, in the aftermath of Rouenna's shocking death, that the narrator is drawn to write about her friend--and her friend's war. Writing Rouenna's story becomes all-consuming, at once a necessity and the only consolation.

For Rouenna, an unforgettable novel about truth, memory, and unexpected heroism by one of the most gifted writers of her generation, is also a remarkable and surprising new look at war.
"The tender biography of a sickly marmoset that was adopted by Leonard Woolf and became a fixture of Bloomsbury society." --Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"In short, glistening sentences that refract the larger world, Ms. Nunez describes the appealingly eccentric, fiercely intelligent Woolfs during a darkening time." --The Wall Street Journal

In 1934, a sickly marmoset named Mitz came into the care of Leonard and Virginia Woolf. After nursing her back to health, Leonard was rarely seen without the monkey on his shoulder. Mitz moved with the Woolfs between their homes in London and Sussex. She developed her own special relationships with the family's cocker spaniels and with the various members of the Woolfs' circle, including T. S. Eliot and Vita Sackville-West. Mitz also played a vital role in helping the Woolfs escape a close call with Nazis in Germany just before World War II.

Blending letters, diaries, and memoirs, Sigrid Nunez reconstructs Mitz's life, painting it against the backdrop of Bloomsbury in its twilight years. Tender, affectionate, and filled with humor, this novel offers a striking look at lives shadowed by war, death, and mental illness, as well as the happiness and productivity the creature inspired. A new edition, now with an afterword by Peter Cameron.
Feckless, nervous, irresolute, often troubled with insomnia, Nona longs for a life of firm purpose, order and dignity. To do whatever is the work before her, letting nothing distract her, expecting nothing, fearing nothing -- the way of the Stoics -- this is her ideal. But despite all her stratagems, this ideal constantly eludes her. Life is too unpredictable, her sense of self too fragile and human relationships are too tenuous. She muddles along, a victim of her own anxieties and resentments, her behavior often as mystifying to herself as it is to others. Why though, happily married, does she fly across the country to pursue a man she hardly knows, whom she intuitively mistrusts and does not even much care for? In the aftermath of this calamity, Nona separates from her husband and undergoes a period of intense self-examination. Meanwhile, she struggles to complete a book about her father, a painter, who died when she was a child. Out of both projects -- her work of introspection and her work of memory -- arise thorny questions about love, identity and destiny. Unexpected support appears in the form of one of her father's old lovers, whom Nona now meets for the first time. But while this new friendship thrives, relations between Nona and her husband, and between Nona and her mother, with whom she shares an anguished history, seem to be coming apart. Nona has barely achieved a somewhat surer sense of herself and her way in the world when a series of grave, unforeseeable events threaten her precarious equilibrium.

Compelling, emotionally charged and written with the psychological precision and exquisite detail that are among the hallmarks of Nunez's work, "Naked Sleeper" is aboutinescapable and sometimes unendurable complexities of love and the family drama. It is the story of a woman's search for self-knowledge, for understanding of others and for an answer to the imperative question: "How should she live?"
Literary magazine containing the following:
Fiction: The Plan; No More Than A Bubble; From An iPhone 6; One More; Valiant; A 2nd Look At Love At 1st Sight; Bug Man; Attrition; The Last Good Thing.

Non-Fiction: The End Of The Affair; We All Go Into The Dark; On Bonds.

Poetry: Political Ambition; Amidah: Portrait Of Bernice Abbot; The Threshold Of Small Chances; Lesions; Anniversary With Yellow Iris; From: The Confessions