Sheila Heti

Sheila Heti has written several books, among them How Should a Person Be? A novel to be called Motherhood will be published next year.

In​ 1990, when she was 35 years old, Paulina Chiziane became the first woman in Mozambique to publish a novel. She has since published six more books, writing in Portuguese, and is one of Mozambique’s most culturally significant writers. In interviews, Chiziane has explained that she has received a lot of criticism for her books from people who think that the women’s lives she...

There was a time when artists and writers flocked to inexpensive cities to allow themselves the trials of making art over the trials of making a living. In North America today, the main site of literary activity or literary business – which more and more amount to the same thing – is Brooklyn. Yet it’s probably one of the toughest places for a writer to live cheaply and noodle about, wearing rags. What happens when artists gravitate to places where they can make art only with great financial effort; where writers have to be journalists, adjunct professors, or work in cafés.

So Frank: Meeting Knausgaard

Sheila Heti, 9 January 2014

Last year, I happened to meet the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard. I had just read part of Book 1 of My Struggle, his six-volume autobiographical series, and in a scene that imprinted itself on my memory – a scene from his childhood, set on New Year’s Eve before he heads out with his friends – he steps into the family kitchen:

I got up, grabbed the orange peel, went...

I dive under the covers: Mad Wives

Sheila Heti, 6 June 2013

In 2009 Kate Zambreno went to live in Akron, Ohio, the sort of place you only choose if the situation is desperate. She was there because her husband had been hired to ‘curate and organise a small collection of rare books at the university … the gift of a rubber industrialist’. Friends asked why they’d made this uninspiring move. ‘The economy, you know. I...

At the start of Leaving the Atocha Station, Adam Gordon, a young American in Spain for a year on a fellowship, purportedly to write ‘a long, research-driven poem’ about the Spanish Civil War’s ‘literary legacy’, goes into the Prado and heads for Rogier Van der Weyden’s Descent from the Cross. He has been standing in front of it every morning since he arrived in Madrid, but today he finds a man in his place, facing the painting – or maybe the wall. Adam gets irritated, waits for him to leave, then suddenly the man bursts into tears.

The ceaseless metaphysical self-inquiry of Sheila Heti’s books is a maddening, but accurate, depiction of a world in which one cannot boil an egg or clean a toilet or get married without wondering whether...

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Get a Lobotomy: ‘Motherhood’

Sally Rooney, 30 August 2018

On​ a recent episode of an Irish talk show, a guest celebrated her 90th birthday accompanied by her 19 children. The children, now mostly in their fifties and sixties, occupied the whole front...

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It could be me: Sheila Heti

Joanna Biggs, 24 January 2013

One thing Sheila Heti does know is that she’s had enough: of her contemporaries, of men, of herself.

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