A gripping, thoughtful novel about sisters, ambition, work and motherhood.
A masterful achievement: a joint coming-of-age story and an achingly poignant portrait of the strange, painful, ultimately life-sustaining bonds between sisters.
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. DUAL CITIZENS captures the unique language of sisters and makes visible the imperceptible strings that bind us to the ones we love for good.
This novel sneaks up on you the way life does - full of chance and yearning. It's a precise, subtle, sad and graceful story about how we care for each other, and how we try to, and how we fail
I hesitate to call Dual Citizens Alix Ohlin's best book - because her previous ones are among my favourite recent works of fiction - but its 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
Alix Ohlin is a thrilling and singular writer who intimately captures and celebrates a lifetime of desires, disappointments and everyday triumphs in these two sisters' lives. I couldn't stop thinking about it: Dual Citizens will take up residency in your mind and heart for quite some time
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
Luminous . . . Ohlin's touching, beautifully crafted story traces the unbreakable bond holding sisters together, even when miles apart, through many changes - Booklist
[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 - Kirkus
[An] engrossing, intricate tale . . . Ohlin smartly chooses a broad scope and expertly weaves disparate lives into a singular thread, making for an exceptional depiction of the bond between sisters - Publishers Weekly
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 programme at the University of British Columbia.