3 Women, On Women: Merve Emre, Sigrid Nunez, and Doreen St. Félix on Susan Sontag Now

“The most interesting ideas are heresies.” So said Susan Sontag, a writer who refused party lines, always, and whose work changed how we think about photography and identity, gender and metaphor, performance and play.

Join us as we celebrate the publication of Susan Sontag’s On Women (Picador): a new collection of Sontag’s seminal essays which, as Merve Emre writes in her introduction, traverse “the politics and aesthetics of being a woman in the United States, the Americas, and the world.”

The essays in On Women bear the imprint of Sontag’s lived experience as well as her ferocious intellect. She writes about beauty – its gendered specificity, mutability, limitations, and power. She delivers prescient musings on aging and body modification. She reflects on film and fascism. She debates other thinkers and envisions, in electrifying prose, a pluralistic, liberatory world for women that we’re still seeking today.

For this special book launch and conversation, Merve Emre will be joined by Sigrid Nunez and Doreen St. Félix to probe Sontag’s refractive legacies, and her keen resonance in our new era of women watching women.

About the Guests

Merve Emre is the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing and Criticism at Wesleyan University, and a contributing writer at The New Yorker. Her books include Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America, The Personality Brokers, The Ferrante Letters, and The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway. She has been awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize, the Robert B. Silvers Prize for Literary Criticism, and the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing by the National Book Critics Circle.

Sigrid Nunez is the author of nine novels, including The Friend, winner of the 2018 National Book Award, What Are You Going Through, and The Vulnerables, which will be published in November 2023. Nunez is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. She has been the recipient of a Whiting Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship, the Rome Prize in Literature, and a Guggenheim. Her books have been translated into thirty languages.

Doreen St. Félix is a staff writer at The New Yorker. She served as the magazine's television critic from 2019 to 2022. In 2017, she was a finalist for a National Magazine Award for Columns and Commentary, and in 2019, she won in the same category.

Copies of On Women will be for sale at the event. This program is part of PW Broadcast's Author Talks, a series highlighting authors and thinkers across disciplines.