First Fiction Fridays: After Alice by Karen Hofmann
August 8, 2014
Karen Hofmann's first novel bears all the hallmarks of her work as a poet and writer of short stories. Every sentence is a polished jewel, every description a perfect evocation of mood and theme. Hofmann invokes the Okanagan Valley in precise detail, blending it with ever-present issues of land stewardship, social stratification and colonialism.
Karen Hofmann lives in Kamloops, BC. She has been published in Arc, Prairie Fire, The Malahat Review, and The Fiddlehead. Her book Water Strider was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Prize at the 2009 BC Book Awards, and she has been shortlisted for the 2012 CBC Short Fiction Contest.
Why you need to read this now:
After Alice is the story of Sidonie von Täler, a professor of psychology who has moved back to her family’s orchard in the Okanagan Valley after her retirement from teaching. As she sifts through the wreckage of her marriage and the decrepit state of her family’s legacy, she still feels the presence of her long-deceased sister Alice looming over her every move. Alice was always the prettier sister, the more successful, the more well-known in town. So when she died, the tragedy became imbued in the landscape, trapping the rest of her family forever.
Karen Hofmann’s first novel bears all the hallmarks of her work as a poet and writer of short stories. Every sentence is a polished jewel, every description a perfect evocation of mood and theme. Hofmann invokes the Okanagan Valley in precise detail, blending it with ever-present issues of land stewardship, social stratification and colonialism. Her eye for period detail and characterization is reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin or Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel, while her lyrical realization of bygone B.C. pastoralia recalls the work of George Bowering.
What other people are saying about After Alice:
“After Alice is a poignant exploration of the mysterious underworld of memory and the capricious expansion and contraction of time. Karen Hofmann has a compelling curiosity about people — their secrets, their sorrows, their strength, and their compromised ideas of love. She has penned a rich novel with big heart.” - Angie Abdou, author of The Bone Cage and The Canterbury Trail
"For the beauty of its narrative descriptions, but also for many other reasons, After Alice deserves a place among the best of new Canadian literary fiction." - Julienne Isaacs, Winnipeg Review
"I welcome Hofmann’s refreshing voice with this wonderful book, one of the most interesting and exciting that I’ve encountered in ages." - Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This
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