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Claire Messud was born in the United States in 1966 to a French father and a Canadian mother, and was raised in Sydney, Australia and Toronto, Canada, before returning to the States in 1980. She was educated at Yale and Cambridge universities. Her first novel, When the World Was Steady, and her book of novellas, The Hunters, were finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award; her second novel, The Last Life, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Editor's Choice at the Village Voice; all three books were New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Her most recent novel, The Emperor's Children, was on several best books of the year lists, including the Los Angeles Times, Economist, Chicago Tribune, and People magazine, and was named one of the "Ten Best Books of the Year" for 2006 by the New York Times Book Review. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, and the Straus Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.