Nine Island

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9781936787128 | Paperback 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 | 244 pages Buy it Now

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9781936787272 | Ebook | 244 pages Buy it Now

Book Description

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016

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

Nine Island is an intimate autobiographical novel, told by J, a woman who lives in a glass tower on one of Miami Beach’s lush Venetian Islands. After decades of disaster with men, she is trying to decide whether to withdraw forever from romantic love. Having just returned to Miami from a monthlong reunion with an old flame, “Sir Gold,” and a visit to her fragile mother, J begins translating Ovid’s magical stories about the transformations caused by Eros. “A woman who wants, a man who wants nothing. These two have stalked the world for thousands of years,” she thinks.

When not ruminating over her sexual past and current fantasies, in the company of only her aging cat, J observes the comic, sometimes steamy goings–on among her faded–glamour condo neighbors. One of them, a caring nurse, befriends her, eventually offering the opinion that “if you retire from love . . . then you retire from life.”

About the Author

Jane Alison Author Photo
© Mary Motley Kalergis

Praise For This Book

Praise for Nine Island

The Guardian, Best Summer Books 2018
One of Publishers Weekly's 25 Best Books of 2016 in Fiction

“Alison’s evocation of J’s interior life feels honest, and it dramatizes the social invisibility of women who live alone past a certain age. . . .[Her] novel treats with humor . . . existential questions about solitude and the inevitability of transformation. As our circumstances and bodies change, as we inflict and cause pain, as our lives expand and contract, what of the self endures? Nine Island testifies to the fragility of a life that can vanish from sight, and to the sturdiness of one that maintains the capacity for change.” —Alix Ohlin, New York Times Book Review

“The free form of Alison’s prose will keep you on your toes, and her meditations on the absence and presence of love will touch your heart.” —Estelle Tang, “The 11 Best Books for September 2016,” ELLE

Nine Island could be fun for a book club, though one with only female members. J, having just suffered a romantic rejection, retreats to her glass aerie on one of the Miami Beach islands, thinking about renouncing men forever. ‘Three decades of wandering among men. I have to ask myself, for what? Who made them the trees, the stars?" —Sarah Murdoch, Toronto Star

“The more or less constant delights of Jane Alison’s latest novel bubble up out of a story that is, incongruously, bleak. It is quite an achievement, a comic novel about a woman of a certain age as she contemplates embracing a not–altogether–unwelcome spinsterhood. . . . There is a wonderful observation . . . on every page.” —Chauncey Mabe, Miami Herald

“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)

“I can’t stop thinking about this weird, wonderful book that follows a woman known only as 'J.' as she considers life on the cusp of sexual viability while living in a Miami Beach high rise. J. is (like her creator, who is also Director of Creative Writing at The University of Virginia) a serious scholar of Ovid, and The Metamorphoses plays an important, but far from stuffy, role in the plot. Should be required reading for all women over age 18.” —Bethanne Patrick, Literary Hub's 5 Great Books to Read Amid the September Onslaught

“Candid, contemplative, hilarious, and affecting. . . . It’s also quite a bit stranger than one might expect, in the best possible sense: allusive and elusive, it conflates its narrator’s restless mind and its louche, peculiar setting to produce an effect that’s vibrant, slippery, erotically charged, and slightly menacing.” —Martin Seay, author of The Mirror Thief, in Electric Literature

“A cerebral exploration of self, Nine Island explores oneness and whether it is, or isn't, an acceptable ending.” —Ilana Masad, Read it Forward's Favorite Reads of September

“Earlier this year, we listed 99 books everyone should read. If you've somehow chewed through this list already, we recommend Nine Island by Jane Alison.” —Harper's BAZAAR

“This immersive, cerebral novel centers on J, a woman teetering on the balance between the concrete, sometimes grim responsibilities of her daily life and an equally urgent personal dilemma: should she 'retire' from love and romance?. . . . Evocative, sad, at times funny, and never completely without hope, Nine Island studies what it means to be alone later in life.” —Kirkus Reviews

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

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

“This deceptively slim narrative, as witty and mercurial as any tale from Ovid, circles deftly around love and desire, pain and death, joy and solitude and the relentless nature of change. I fell into it as into water, transformed by the magic of Alison's prose.” —Andrea Barrett, author of The Air We Breathe and Archangel