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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Tapping That 'Nervous Writing Condition'

“Sometimes, surely, truth is closer to imagination or to intelligence, to love than to fact? To be accurate is not to be right.” – Shirley Hazzard

An Australian-American novelist, short story writer and essayist Hazzard was born in Australia on this date in 1931.  After first writing short stories, she became a major international novelist after her 1970 novel The Bay of Noon was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.  In 2003, her novel The Great Fire won three major awards for fiction – the U.S. National Book Award, the Miles Franklin Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal. 
Hazzard first moved to New York City when she was 20, starting a 10-year job with the United Nations Secretariat and ultimately leading to her authorship of two books that were highly critical of the organization.  In her book Countenance of Truth Hazzard alleged that senior international diplomats had been aware of the Nazi past of Kurt Waldheim yet had allowed him to rise through the ranks to become U.N. Secretary-General.  

In 1963 she married U.S. writer Francis Steegmuller and they moved to Europe, living in Paris and then on the Isle of Capri while also maintaining a New York apartment.  She was back in New York at the time of her death in 2016.   

About being a writer, she once noted:  “It’s nervous work.  The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of.”

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