An American fiction writer, poet, and essayist, she is best known for The Blindfold, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, and The Sorrows of an American. Her 2003 novel, What I Loved, was shortlisted for the Prix Femina Étranger.
She received a degree in history from St. Olaf College and subsequently attended Columbia University's graduate program in English. In her doctoral dissertation, she analyzed the works of Charles Dickens.
Her work commonly focuses on the theme of identity.
She married fellow writer, Paul Auster, in the early 1980s. Her daughter, Sophie Hustvedt Auster, became an actress and singer.
Her psychologically-themed novels were influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud.