Anderson, Alison 1950-
ANDERSON, Alison 1950-
PERSONAL: Born 1950; married Alan Anderson, January, 1986 (marriage ended, 1996); children: Amy. Education: Attended schools in Lausanne and Geneva, Switzerland.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Charles Scribner's Sons, Simon & Schuster Trade Division, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
CAREER: Translator and novelist, 1992–. Teacher of English as a second language in Greece, Switzerland, and France, 1983–88; has also taught English in Zagreb, Croatia. Worked in San Francisco, CA, 1988–93.
Hidden Latitudes (novel), Scribner (New York, NY), 1996.
Darwin's Wink: A Novel of Nature and Love, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Olivier de Kersauson, The Sea Never Changes, Sheridan House (Dobbs Ferry, NY), 1992.
H.H. the Dalai Lama, Beyond Dogma: Discourses and Dialogues, North Atlantic Books (Berkeley, CA), 1996.
Louise Longo, Let Me Survive, Sheridan House (Dobbs Ferry, NY), 1996.
Catherine David, The Beauty of Gesture, North Atlantic Books (Berkeley, CA), 1996.
J.M.G. LeClezio, Onitsha, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1997.
Aliette Armel, Love, the Painter's Wife and the Queen of Sheba, Toby Press (New Milford, CT), 2004.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Translation of Victor Stoichita's, The Pygmalion Effect, for University of Chicago Press.
SIDELIGHTS: Translator and author Alison Anderson learned the tools of her trade in a lifetime spent moving through Europe and the United States. She grew up on the East Coast of the United States and spent time in Switzerland, Greece, France, England, and Mexico before eventually settling down in Northern California. "I never became Swiss, despite sixteen years spent there; I did not marry the Greek father of my daughter … nor did I become British, because we did not live in England," she explained in her Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series (CAAS) entry. "The Swiss think I'm Swiss, the French think I'm French, Americans often think I'm Canadian." She continued, "My early experience of not belonging, even in such a vast and diverse country, has stayed with me through most of my life. I have found roots in my uprootedness, my gypsy restlessness; I have found belonging in language."
Anderson's first novel Hidden Latitudes has the themes of alienation and not belonging at its center. The novel features an unnamed protagonist—whom reviewers identify with the lost aviatrix Amelia Earhart—who has been marooned on a desert island without human companionship. After forty years, she is visited by a married couple, Robin and Lucy, who arrive in their damaged sailboat. The heroine watches the two secretly as they try to repair both their boat and their marriage. "Earhart never reveals herself to Lucy and Robin," declared a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "though they become aware of the presence of another. When they leave, the aviatrix feels regret, but at peace with her choice of solitude over companionship." A Booklist reviewer wrote, "As the richly drawn characters each consider their jeopardized existence, Anderson offers an arresting interpretation of life's imperative and the true meaning of love."
Darwin's Wink: A Novel of Nature and Love, Anderson's second novel, introduces readers to Fran and Christian, naturalists who work to save an endangered species of bird. Both are recovering from trauma in their personal lives—Christian worked for the Red Cross in Bosnia and left behind him a pregnant lover, while Fran, divorced by her husband for her infertility, still mourns the unexpected loss of her previous assistant, who was also her lover—and it is only after facing malicious sabotage of their efforts that the two begin to open up and rely on each other. "Readers will find the plot distantly secondary to the novel's rich emotional palette," commented a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. This softness of plot was seen by a critic for Kirkus Reviews in a negative light; the contributor concluded, "More Mauritius and less Bosnia might have rescued Anderson's story from the doldrums." Other reviewers, however, found Anderson's language and themes to be more than enough to support the book. Booklist contributor Carol Haggas found the book to be "luminously written, with a hypnotic sensuality that fairly shimmers." Anderson "perfectly captures the conjunction of colonialism, gender issues, and Third World economic development," according to Rebecca Tolley-Stokes in a review for Library Journal.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Volume 30, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Booklist, June 1, 1996, review of Hidden Latitudes, p. 1672; September 1, 2004, Carol Haggas, review of Darwin's Wink: A Novel of Nature and Love, p. 54.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of Darwin's Wink, p. 819.
Library Journal, June 1, 1996, p. 146; August, 2004, Rebecca Tolley-Stokes, review of Darwin's Wink, p. 63.
Mademoiselle, August, 1996, p. 96.
New York Times Book Review, July 21, 1996, p. 11.
Publishers Weekly, May 13, 1996, review of Hidden Latitudes, p. 53; March 17, 1997, p. 77; October 4, 2004, review of Darwin's Wink, p. 67.
Alison Anderson Home Page, http://www.alisonanderson.com (September 6, 2005).