Upcoming Event
  • Creation Lake

    by Rachel Kushner
    Price $29.99
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    Creation Lake

Rachel Kushner at Harvard Book Store


Creation Lake: A Novel

in conversation with Claire Messud


September 6, 2024
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes Rachel Kushner—author of the Prix Médicis étranger award-winning and internationally bestselling novel The Mars Room—for a discussion of her new book Creation Lake. She will be joined in conversation by Claire Messud—Joseph Y. Bae and Janice Lee Senior Lecturer on Fiction at Harvard University.

About Creation Lake

Creation Lake is a novel about a secret agent, a thirty-four-year-old American woman of ruthless tactics, bold opinions, and clean beauty, who is sent to do dirty work in France.

“Sadie Smith” is how the narrator introduces herself to her lover, to the rural commune of French subversives on whom she is keeping tabs, and to the reader.

Sadie has met her love, Lucien, a young and well-born Parisian, by “cold bump”—making him believe the encounter was accidental. Like everyone Sadie targets, Lucien is useful to her and used by her. Sadie operates by strategy and dissimulation, based on what her “contacts”—shadowy figures in business and government—instruct. First, these contacts want her to incite provocation. Then they want more.

In this region of centuries-old farms and ancient caves, Sadie becomes entranced by a mysterious figure named Bruno Lacombe, a mentor to the young activists who communicates only by email. Bruno believes that the path to emancipation from what ails modern life is not revolt, but a return to the ancient past.

Just as Sadie is certain she’s the seductress and puppet master of those she surveils, Bruno Lacombe is seducing her with his ingenious counter-histories, his artful laments, his own tragic story.

Written in short, vaulting sections, Rachel Kushner’s rendition of “noir” is taut and dazzling. Creation Lake is Kushner’s finest achievement yet as a novelist, a work of high art, high comedy, and unforgettable pleasure.

Praise for Creation Lake

"Creation Lake reinvents the spy novel in one cool, erudite gesture. Only Rachel Kushner could weave environmental activism, paranoia, and nihilism into a gripping philosophical thriller. Enthralling and sleekly devious, this book is also a lyrical reflection on both the origin and the fate of our species. A novel this brilliant and profound shouldn’t be this much fun.”—Hernan Diaz, author of Trust

“By writing in the unillusioned voice of an ex-FBI agent infiltrating a bunch of rural French subversives, Rachel Kushner has cover to say whatever she damn well pleases. And because Kushner has the most bracing intelligence in American fiction, she rips the skin off what many of us like to think we believe.”—David Hare, playwright and screenwriter

"An undercover agent embeds with radical French environmentalists in this scintillating story of activism and espionage from Kushner...Most of the narrative is dedicated to the activists’ philosophizing and Sadie’s gimlet-eyed observations, which Kushner magically weaves together...Readers will be captivated."—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Claire Messud
Claire Messud

Claire Messud

Claire Messud’s bestselling novels include The Emperor’s Children, a New York Times Book of the Year in 2006; The Woman Upstairs (2013); and The Burning Girl (2017), a finalist for the LA Times Book Award in Fiction. She is also the author of a book of novellas, The Hunters (2001), and a memoir-in-essays, Kant’s Little Prussian Head & Other Reasons Why I Write (2020). Her work has been translated into over twenty languages. She writes for Harper’s Magazine, The New York Review of Books and the New York Times, among other publications. She was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture in 2020. Her new novel, This Strange Eventful History, will be published by W.W. Norton in May, 2024.

Rachel Kushner
Rachel Kushner

Rachel Kushner

Rachel Kushner is the author of The Hard Crowd, her acclaimed essay collection, and the internationally bestselling novels The Mars Room, The Flamethrowers, and Telex from Cuba, as well as a book of short stories, The Strange Case of Rachel K. She has won the Prix Médicis and been a finalist for the Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Folio Prize, and was twice a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. Her books are translated into twenty-seven languages.

Photo Credit: Chloe Aftel
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