All her life, Lark Brossard has felt invisible, overshadowed by the people around her: first by her temperamental mother, Marianne; then by her sister, Robin, a brilliantly talented pianist as wild as the animals she loves; and finally by Lawrence Wheelock, a renowned filmmaker who is both Lark's employer and her occasional lover. When Wheelock denies her what she longs for most — a child — Lark is forced to re-examine a life marked by unrealized ambitions and thwarted desires. As she takes charge of her destiny, Lark comes to rely on Robin in ways she never could have imagined.
In this meditation on motherhood, sisterhood, desire and self-knowledge, Alix Ohlin traces the rich and complex path towards fulfillment as an artist and a human being. (From House of Anansi Press)
Dual Citizens is on the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.
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From the book
In New York, I waited for Robin's return. I hadn't heard from her during her trip, and I'd had to imagine her summer for myself. Now I was restless with anticipation, wanting to know how closely the reality would conform to the pictures in my mind.
But Robin wasn't doing any of the things I'd imagined. She wasn't testing the keys of a ramshackle piano, feeling its bones shift as she rehearsed before rows of empty red velvet seats in an auditorium that had been resplendent a hundred years ago. She wasn't nursing a coffee at an outdoor café, steadying herself for the evening performance, or sipping some aromatic liqueur the owner insisted she should try at least once. She wasn't dipping her toes in foreign rivers. She wasn't playing Rachmaninoff — I knew now that she was a Rach 3 pianist — to adoring crowds. She wasn't holding Bernard's hand as they walked over a footbridge in the early morning, his hair skunky with potent local hash, their eyes pleasantly glazed. She wasn't thinking about me, back in New York, in the Tunnel. She wasn't getting ready to come home.
From Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin ©2019. Published by House of Anansi Press.
"The book is about the lives of women. I was interested in writing about two sisters whose close relationship is the major love story of their lives. Even though they would have other relationships — romantic and professional experiences — their connection to each other would be the major thread of the book.
I wanted to write about ambition: What are some of the ways in which women receive permission to be artists and what are some of the ways in which they don't receive that permission?- Alix Ohlin
"The book is not autobiographical, but I have had intense relationships with women in my life. Friendships that have endured over many years and waxed and waned. I was interested in the permanence of that — and the way that people we're close to when we're young can be so formative to our sense of self and identity."
"I wanted to write about ambition: What are some of the ways in which women receive permission to be artists and what are some of the ways in which they don't receive that permission?
"I also wanted to write about motherhood and an array of choices women make about it."
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