Readings season continues with Claire Messud

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Queens College students, faculty and guests filled LeFrak Hall on March 4 to hear Clair Messud read and answer questions on her latest novel, “The Women Upstairs.”

Clearance Messud, better known as Claire Messud is an American novelist and creative writing professor.

“Life is such a crap shoot and you don’t know what it’s going to throw at you,” she said.

The main character of her novel is Nora Eldridge, a 37-year-old elementary school teacher, who has the desire to be a great artist but constantly holds herself back. Her friends, who she is dedicated to, are not much help in boosting her confidence since they take advantage of her.

“She is struggling to reconcile the person she is in her head to the person she is in the world. In her mind, she is stronger and freer than she is in reality,” Messud said.

Messud began the evening by reading a short excerpt from her novel. After, radio host, Leonard Lopate interviewed her as part of QC’s Evening Readings series.

“We never find women this angry. Why are people so uncomfortable by this?” Lopate said.

Nora is a character who is full of rage from beginning to end and her anger is commendable with the grandeur of her hope, Messud said.

“I don’t read for that. I read to learn how it is to be human, not to find someone I want to watch ‘Sex and the City’ with,” Messud said.

Messud doesn’t care about how liked or disliked Nora is by her readers.

“I want to write a book on a whole secret life of dreams, hopes, passions and despair,” Messud said.

The book is about what’s going on in the inside and not about putting on a front.

“It has a lot to do with women and the rights they think they have,” John Jay sophomore, Tania Guerrero said. “Just by what she read, I actually liked it… I can relate to it.”

After addressing questions, Messud gave a word of advice to the writing enthusiasts in the crowd. She began writing when she was 6 years old and received a typewriter for her birthday. She believes being a writer is a matter of having good boundaries and making time for yourself to write.

“Perseverance is the most important thing,” Messud said.

For more information on QC’s Evening Readings Series visit

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