The Princess of 72nd Street

The Princess of 72nd Street

A Novel

About the Book

A provocative and thoroughly feminist “cult classic” (The New Yorker) about a smart, sensitive, yet deeply troubled young woman fighting to live on her own terms.

I am glad I have the radiance. This time I am wiser. No one will know… The radiance drifts blue circles around my head. If I wanted to I could float up and through them. I am weightless. My brain is cool like rippling waves. Conflict does not exist. For a moment I cannot see—the lights are large orange flowers.

Ellen has two lives. A single artist living alone on New York’s Upper West Side in the 1970s, she periodically descends into episodes she describes as “radiances.” While under the influence of the radiance, she becomes Princess Esmeralda, and West 72nd Street the kingdom over which she rules. Life as Esmeralda is a colorful, glorious, liberating experience for Ellen, and despite the chaos and stigma these episodes can bring, she relishes the respite from the confines of the everyday. And yet those around her, particularly the men in her life, are threatened by her incarnation as Esmeralda and the freedom it gives her.

In what would turn to be her final published work, originally released in 1979, Elaine Kraf tackles a dark and disturbing subject in an utterly original, witty, and inventive manner. Provocative at the time of its publication and thoroughly iconoclastic, The Princess of 72nd Street is a remarkable portrait of an unforgettable woman.
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Modern Library Torchbearers Series

The Princess of 72nd Street
Plum Bun
Narrative of Sojourner Truth
Regiment of Women
The Goodness of St. Rocque
A Daughter of the Samurai
Mrs. Spring Fragrance
The Yellow Wall-Paper and Other Writings
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
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About the Author

Elaine Kraf
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About the Author

Melissa Broder
Melissa Broder is the author of the essay collection So Sad Today and four poetry collections, including Last Sext. Her poetry has appeared in POETRY, The Iowa Review, Tin House, Guernica, and she is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize. She writes the “So Sad Today” column at Vice, the astrology column for Lenny Letter, and the “Beauty and Death” column on Elle’s website. She lives in Los Angeles. More by Melissa Broder
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