Nine Island by Jane Alison
Named one of the best fiction books of the year by Publishers Weekly
“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.” —Elle, “The 11 Best Books for September 2016”
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.” Set against the backdrop of exquisitely beautiful flora, fauna, and seascapes, Nine Island culminates with a breathtaking gift, from one friend to another.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jane Alison is the author of a memoir, The Sisters Antipodes, and three novels—The Love-Artist, The Marriage of the Sea, and Natives and Exotics—and the translator of Ovid's stories of sexual transformation, Change Me. She is Professor and Director of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia, and lives in Charlottesville. Learn more at http://www.janealisonauthor.