“Devastates and illuminates all at once.”

“Devastates and illuminates all at once.”
— Lauren Groff

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Nine Island is a nerve-jangling book full of the giddy wit of the emotionally starving, the unfulfillable desire of being in love with being in love, and the weirdly sexy conversation of souls in free fall.”

—David Shields, author of Reality Hunger and How Literature Saved My Life

Nine Island is a crackling incantation, brittle and brilliant and hot and sad and full of sideways humor that devastates and illuminates all at once.”

—Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies

“Wonderful. . . . With echoes of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy and Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, the Sea, Alison has forged a haunting and emotionally precise portrait, a beautiful reminder that solitude does not equal loneliness.”

—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

On Memoir, Fiction, and Truth...

Jane Alison in discussion with UVA students.




Excerpt – The Love-Artist

Prologue   Now the word is given, the horses are lashed, and the wagon jolts down the dark street, a helmeted soldier seated at each side and Ovid, the exile, between them. Flames glare through the eyes and mouths of stone lanterns, and the blue night air swirls about him like water. The Palatine, crusted […]

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Excerpt – Change Me

“Hermaphroditus and Salmacis” (Metamorphoses 4.285-388)   Hear how the Salmacis pool got an evil name for its powerful waters that enervate men. The potency’s famous—the cause, not so known. Change Me In the caves of Ida, nymphs once nursed a boy, the child of Mercury and divine Venus. You could see both mother and father […]

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Excerpt – The Sisters Antipodes

“Swapping Fathers, Swiftly” Reprinted from the New York Times, Modern Love column, 1 March 2009. Whenever I take the train from Washington to New York, I relive how it was in 1973, when my sister and I went to see our father for the first time in seven years. She was 14 and I was […]

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Excerpt – The Marriage of the Sea

Pages 238 – 247: Max signed all the papers in the emerald-green building near the warehouse district, and then he went with the keys to find the rental car. It was emerald-green, too, small and bright, like an insect. He walked around it, inspecting, put a foot to a tire, and finally opened the door […]

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Excerpt – Natives and Exotics

Pages 28-36:   But the sky lost its light quickly, there on the equator. Then Quito lay glittering in the mountain’s lap, its lights mirrored by the stars. It didn’t seem possible, as Alice stood on the balcony and stared up, that there could be so many stars. As if, were you to pull away […]

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Excerpt – “A Masque in Disguise”

Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut   When Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut appeared in 1999, it was titillatingly billed as a film about sex and jealousy starring a genuine Hollywood couple, and the element of the film to stir the greatest pre-opening excitement was generally dubbed “the orgy.” Once the film opened, some critics hailed […]

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Excerpt – “The Plant Hunter”

The Sea Heart   It began with the Sea Heart, a glossy red thing like a chambered nut they found rolling in the waves. The water should have been cold on that Scottish island but wasn’t; it was as warm as a bath, although no one had troubled to notice this–no one but Thom and […]

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