When Siri Hustvedt wrote her essay “Living With Strangers”, she was at a time in her career as an author when she had mostly had poems, essays, and two fiction novels published. Being married to renowned author Paul Auster, Hustvedt was only just beginning to emerge from her husband’s shadow. Both she and Auster share a preference for using themselves and their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences in their works, just as their works often focus on New York. When it comes to both of these characteristics, “Living With Strangers” is no exception.

Hustvedt wrote her essay about social behavior in New York in 2002, which was a time of booming economy (the financial crisis would not strike until 2008), although the shock of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York happened only one year back. We do not sense a lot of the historical and socio-economic characteristics of that period in Hustvedt’...

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