Claire Messud (born 1966) is an American novelist and literature and creative writing professor. She is best known as the author of the novel The Emperor's Children (2006).
Born in Greenwich, Connecticut, Messud grew up in the United States, Australia, and Canada, returning to the United States as a teenager. Messud's mother is Canadian, and her father is ethnic French from French Algeria (Algeria was a French colony until 1962). She was educated at the University of Toronto Schools, and Milton Academy. She did undergraduate and graduate studies at Yale University and Cambridge University, where she met her spouse James Wood. Messud also briefly attended the MFA program at Syracuse University.
Messud's debut novel, When The World Was Steady (1995), was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award. In 1999, she published her second book, The Last Life, about three generations of a French-Algerian family. Her 2001 work, The Hunters, consists of two novellas. The Emperor’s Children, which Messud wrote while a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in 2004–2005, was critically praised and became a New York Times bestseller, as well as being longlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize. In April 2013, Messud published her sixth novel, The Woman Upstairs.
Messud has taught creative writing at Amherst College, Kenyon College, University of Maryland, Yale University, in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers in North Carolina, in the Graduate Writing program at The Johns Hopkins University, and at Harvard University. Messud also taught at the Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. She is on the editorial board of the literary magazine The Common, based at Amherst College. She has contributed articles to publications such as The New York Review of Books.
Each spring semester, beginning 2009, Messud teaches a literary traditions course as a part of CUNY Hunter College's MFA Program in Creative Writing.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters has recognized Messud's talent with both an Addison Metcalf Award and a Strauss Living Award. She was considered for the 2003 Granta Best of Young British Novelists list, although none of the three passports she holds is British. As of 2010–2011, she is a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin / Institute of Advanced Study. She has two children, Livia and Lucian.