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Marisha Pessl
Born October 26, 1977 (1977-10-26) (age 32)
Detroit, Michigan
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Official website

Marisha Pessl (born October 26, 1977) is an American writer best known for her debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

Pessl was born in Clarkston, Michigan, to Klaus, an Austrian engineer for General Motors, and Anne, an American homemaker. Pessl's parents divorced when she was three, and she moved to Asheville, North Carolina with her mother and sister. Pessl had an intellectually stimulating upbringing, recalling that her mother read "a fair chunk of the Western canon out loud" to her and her sister before bed, and entered her in lessons for riding, painting, jazz, and French.[1] Pessl started high school at the Asheville School, a private, co-educational boarding school, but graduated from Asheville High School 1995. She attended Northwestern University for two years before transferring to Barnard College,[2] where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in English Literature.

After graduating, she worked as a financial consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, while writing in her free time. After two failed attempts at novels,[3] Pessl began writing a third in 2001 about the relationship between a daughter and her controlling, charismatic father.[1] Pessl completed the novel, titled Special Topics in Calamity Physics, in 2004, and it was published in 2006 to "almost universally positive" reviews, eventually becoming a New York Times Best Seller and being published in thirty languages.[1]

Pessl's second novel, Night Film, a "psychological literary thriller[...]about a New York filmmaker looking into an apparent suicide", will be published by Random House in Fall 2010.[4]

Pessl married Nic Caiano, a hedge fund manager, in 2003, and they lived in New York City. She filed for divorce in August 2009.[5]

Pessl was also a contributing musician to The Pierces' third studio album, Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge, released in 2007: she is credited in the liner notes as having played the French horn on track 9 titled "The Power Of..."

In April 2008 Marisha Pessl and her husband sued the AKA Sutton Place hotel for $50,000 after their three cats were allegedly poisoned multiple times by rat poison. They were staying in the hotel after a fire damaged their Tribeca apartment.[6]






  1. ^ a b c Smith, Dinitia. "With Marisha Pessl, You Can’t Judge a Book by the Photo on the Cover", The New York Times, 2006-08-21. Retrieved on 2007-06-15.
  2. ^ "An interview with Marisha Pessl",, September 2006. Retrieved on 2007-06-15.
  3. ^ Kennedy, Mark. "Don't hate Pessl because she's..." (reprint), Deseret Morning News, 2006-11-05. Retrieved on 2007-06-15.
  4. ^ Deahl, Rachel. "London Book Fair '08: What's in Your Briefcase?", Publishers Weekly, 2008-03-17. Retrieved on 2008-04-09.
  5. ^ Marisha Pessl files for divorce (New York Post)
  6. ^ Lawsuit: Cats Almost Checked Out at Pet-Friendly Hotel (Gothamist)

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