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Louise Glück is the author of eleven books of poems and a collection of essays. Her many awards include the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Bollingen Prize and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. She teaches at Yale University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

On October 8, 2020, Glück was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, cited for “her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”.

A Village Life

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
2010 Shortlist
United States

Judges’ Citation

In A Village Life, Louise Glück presents us with a choir of voices whose song enacts and contemplates our human quest for the very happiness that – as if instinctively – we refuse.

In A Village Life, Louise Glück presents us with a choir of voices whose song enacts and contemplates our human quest for the very happiness that – as if instinctively – we refuse. The result is a restlessness that seems never to leave us, as Glück suggests in ‘In the Café’: ‘It’s natural to be tired of earth./When you’ve been dead this long, you’ll probably be tired of heaven./You do what you can do in a place/but after a while you exhaust that place,/so you long for rescue.’ This clarity of wisdom everywhere punctuates these poems which, even as they concern restlessness, are cast in long lines shot through with imagery of pristine, archetypal simplicity producing a cinematic stillness; one thinks of the camera in a Bergman film. The tension between that stillness and the subject of restlessness produces a resonance that builds even as it shifts like thought, like the light and dark that constantly fall across the village itself. As for the village, it seems ultimately to be the human spirit itself, replete with hopes realized and dashed, dreams without resolution, memories to which we return, often enough, to our regret, and too late. A Village Life is a tour-de-force of imagination and artistry, and shows Glück putting her considerable powers to new challenges.