Book Discovery: Dual Citizens: A novel by Alix Ohlin
" Luminous . . . Ohlin’s touching, beautifully crafted story traces the unbreakable bond holding sisters together, even when miles apart, through many changes."
About the book
"We were just these innocent girls in the night trying to make something beautiful. We nearly died. We very nearly did, didn't we?"
Lark and Robin are half-sisters whose similarities end at being named for birds. While Lark is shy and studious, Robin is wild and artistic. Raised in Montreal by their disinterested single mother, they form a fierce team in childhood regardless of their differences. As they grow up, Lark excels at school and Robin becomes an extraordinary pianist. At seventeen, Lark flees to America to attend college, where she finds her calling in documentary films, and her sister soon joins her.
Later, in New York City, they find themselves tested: Lark struggles with self-doubt, and Robin chafes against the demands of Juilliard. Under pressure, their bond grows strained and ultimately is broken, and their paths abruptly diverge. Years later, Lark's life is in tatters and Robin's is wilder than ever. As Lark tries to take charge of her destiny, she discovers that despite the difficulties of their relationship, there is only one person she can truly rely on: her sister.
In this gripping, unforgettable novel about art, ambition, sisterhood, motherhood, and self-knowledge, Alix Ohlin traces the rich and complicated lives of two indelible women. Dazzlingly insightful and beautifully crafted, Dual Citizens captures the unique language of sisters and makes visible the imperceptible strings that bind us to the ones we love for good.
Reviews and What Readers Say
“[Dual Citizens] is a lovely, deeply moving work. A lyrical account of the lives of two women, their failures and hopes, and ultimately their quiet redemption. . . . [Ohlin] asks smart, complicated questions not only about family, but also about the nature of narrative itself—whether in literature or in film—about the difference between artifice and truth and the meaning of nostalgia.”
“ I hesitate to call Dual Citizens Alix Ohlin’s best book—because her previous ones are among my favorite recent works of fiction—but it’s perhaps her most entrancing. This is a spellbinding, fever-dream of a tale that will leave you forever changed, and will surely earn Ohlin a place among the greatest writers of our generation. I loved it.”
―Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year
“ Ohlin’s story of sisters wraps its tendrils deep as any family. Dual Citizens leads a reader through landscapes of compassion and crisis in this deeply felt, iridescent novel of the spells and surprises a sibling creates.”
―Samantha Hunt, author of The Dark Dark
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ALIX OHLIN is the author of four previous books, most recently the novel Inside, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, Best American Short Stories, and many other places. She lives in Vancouver, where she chairs the creative writing program at the University of British Columbia.