The artist Harriet Burden, furious at the lack of attention by the New York art world, conducts an experiment: she hides her identity behind three male facades in a series of exhibitions. The success seems to prove her point. Yet, when the shows succeed and she steps forward for her triumphant reveal, she is betrayed by the third man, Rune.
A mesmerising tour de force through the cultural world of NYC around 9/11.
The main plot is set in New York at the turn of the millennium. The centre of the story is the widowed artist Harriet Burden, who plans an experiment after the death of her husband, a famous and very successful art dealer. She publishes her work of art, which the scene has largely ignored or ridiculed, under the identity of three selected male artists in order to expose the art scene and prove that gender plays a far too great role. Apart from the plot, which is particularly effective from the second half onwards, Siri Hustvedt manages to fill a fictional novel with so many facts from our world by regularly quoting philosophers, psychoanalysts, artists, writers, etc. that you get the feeling that you've gained some serious knowledge afterwards.
9/11 also plays a role, which the author, who herself lives in New York, had to experience. The book has an initially complex structure, as it consists only of reports, interviews and diary entries of the various characters, but the more you get to know it, the more you understand what kind of a coherent system Siri Hustvedt has created with this book.