The Princess of 72nd Street

A Novel

Introduction by Melissa Broder
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.
Elaine Kraf (1936-2013) was a writer and painter. She was the author of four novels: I Am Clarence (1969), The House of Madelaine (1971), Find Him! (1977), and The Princess of 72nd Street (1979). She was the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts awards, a 1971 fellowship at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and a 1977 residency at Yaddo. She was born and lived in New York City.
“A raggedy genius is finally queened, bringing a fairy-tale ending to this cracked dark story of the old West Side.”Joshua Cohen, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Netanyahus

“For a novel that is in many ways about fantasy, there is a bracing wind of keen discernment that sweeps through from the first pages to the last. Though Ellen is transported into an alternate (and preferable) reality by what she calls her radiances, she maintains an eagle eye on the world she's in and the people around her: their habits, their hypocrisies, their desires, their wounds. It is one of the marvels of this book that Elaine Kraf manages to be so recklessly fantastical and so coolly perceptive at the same time.”—Jen Silverman, author of There’s Going to Be Trouble

About

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.

Author

Elaine Kraf (1936-2013) was a writer and painter. She was the author of four novels: I Am Clarence (1969), The House of Madelaine (1971), Find Him! (1977), and The Princess of 72nd Street (1979). She was the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts awards, a 1971 fellowship at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and a 1977 residency at Yaddo. She was born and lived in New York City.

Praise

“A raggedy genius is finally queened, bringing a fairy-tale ending to this cracked dark story of the old West Side.”Joshua Cohen, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Netanyahus

“For a novel that is in many ways about fantasy, there is a bracing wind of keen discernment that sweeps through from the first pages to the last. Though Ellen is transported into an alternate (and preferable) reality by what she calls her radiances, she maintains an eagle eye on the world she's in and the people around her: their habits, their hypocrisies, their desires, their wounds. It is one of the marvels of this book that Elaine Kraf manages to be so recklessly fantastical and so coolly perceptive at the same time.”—Jen Silverman, author of There’s Going to Be Trouble

PRH Education High School Collections

All reading communities should contain protected time for the sake of reading. Independent reading practices emphasize the process of making meaning through reading, not an end product. The school culture (teachers, administration, etc.) should affirm this daily practice time as inherently important instructional time for all readers. (NCTE, 2019)   The Penguin Random House High

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PRH Education Translanguaging Collections

Translanguaging is a communicative practice of bilinguals and multilinguals, that is, it is a practice whereby bilinguals and multilinguals use their entire linguistic repertoire to communicate and make meaning (García, 2009; García, Ibarra Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017)   It is through that lens that we have partnered with teacher educators and bilingual education experts, Drs.

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PRH Education Classroom Libraries

“Books are a students’ passport to entering and actively participating in a global society with the empathy, compassion, and knowledge it takes to become the problem solvers the world needs.” –Laura Robb   Research shows that reading and literacy directly impacts students’ academic success and personal growth. To help promote the importance of daily independent

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