This fourteenth episode features an in-depth conversation about Siri Hunstvedt’s expansive and confrontational novel The Blazing World (2014). I sat down with our reader to discuss Hustvedt’s tragic heroine, Harriet Burden, and her strategic exposure of gender inequality within the art world. The novel is provocative, insightful, and draws the reader toward an understanding of the anger born out of decades of oppression and displacement.
“I would recommend it for people who are okay with not having answers, who want to sit on the questions it provokes because nothing is properly resolved. And the questions linger and they’re heavy…It’s a story about a woman trying to come to terms with her oddity and her gifts….I cried a bunch of times when reading this book. There’s that normal crying of a love lost and that being sad and that was all justified. But then there are moments that are so beautiful they made me want to cry; moments with her daughter, moments of tenderness. Then there were actual tears of frustration because I felt how angry she gets. I’ve felt that myself…I think women feel that all the time. The way that they’re talked down to and not listened to. Her frustration and her desire to be heard is so passionate and heart-rending, and I think we’ve all felt that at one point or another. That people aren’t listening to what we’re saying, we’re not being given due time or credit, and the injustice of that and the helplessness in the face of that. It’s just anguish. It’s heartbreaking.”