Posts Tagged ‘Dual Citizens’

Giller Shortlist: Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin

October 25, 2019

One of the things I enjoy about the process of sharing our Giller thoughts here on Kevin’s blog is noticing the similarities (and differences) in our reactions to the books. In The Innocents we both noticed the use of language. In Reproduction we talked about the stuff of ordinary lives.


In Dual Citizens we’ve both commented on the sense of distance…


Marcie: “But what’s remarkable about Dual Citizens is how simultaneously intimate and distanced the narrative is. Readers feel like they are privy to all of the facts, down to the details, what she does while she’s waiting for her sister to be finished with her piano lesson and the courses she takes at college, without knowing the truth of any of it. You’re super-close and at arm’s length: it’s a strange feeling.”

Naomi: “Both sisters go through life as outsiders. They create a distance from their mother, their place of birth, men, and at times, each other.”

The membrane I’d felt before in college, separating me from everyone else, still endured, but now I considered it protective, and I hummed with activity behind it, purposeful, unseen.

Most of the time I lay on my bed in the Tunnel, feeling the invisible membrane that had long separated me from other people enclose me, and now it was thick and suffocating, and yet I could do nothing to break through it.


We’ve both noted Lark’s tendency to “collect”…


Marcie: “The book is structured in four parts, of unequal length: Before, Childhood, Motherhood, and After. Even from a young age, she sees herself as a “collector of patterns, a magpie in search of scraps”. This narrative is filled with what she has collected.”

Naomi: “And both girls are collectors; Lark collecting facts that she stores in her brain, and Robin collecting abandoned pianos that she stores in her barn.”


And we’re both interested in the way in which Ohlin tells her story…


Marcie: “So Dual Citizens is about two sisters, but it’s also about how one might tell a tale of two sisters.

It’s about the way that one might frame the telling, the process by which readers can examine the shape of the frame for clues about the architect.”

Naomi: “It’s through Lark’s experiences and observations that we learn what happens to the sisters, and between the sisters, as their lives unfold independently, yet always with an eye toward the other.”


To read Marcie’s review in full, visit Buried in Print

To read Naomi’s review in full, visit Consumed by Ink.


You can find the reading schedule for the shortlist here.


We’d love to hear your thoughts on Dual Citizens, Alix Ohlin, the Giller, or any other bookish thing you’d like to say!




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