“Magic in fiction is a long tradition. One of the reasons we like fables and fairy tales is that they’re emotionally true, and page-turners at the same time.”
Alice Hoffman has been called “America’s literary heir to the Brothers Grimm,” and her luminous and remarkable “fables of the everyday” have enchanted readers since the publication of her first novel, Property Of, in 1977. Decades later, with numerous acclaimed and bestselling novels, as well as three short story collections and many books for young adults, Hoffman continues to seduce readers into her vividly imagined worlds.
Writing in The Washington Post Book World, Jack Sullivan says that Hoffman “has a penchant for a near-gothic strangeness and enchantment on the edges of everyday experience.” Her storytelling has the air of a fairy tale and calls to mind the writings of such magical realists as Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, and Washington Irving.
Often drawn to the story of the outcast and the lonely oddball, Hoffman explains, “My theory is that everyone, at one time or another, has been at the fringe of society in some way: an outcast in high school, a stranger in a foreign country, the best at something, the worst at something, the one who’s different. Looking at it this way, being an outsider is the one thing we all have in common.”
Hoffman is a master at forging miracles from the quotidian and the ordinary. While she explores life’s common struggles—people puzzling through essential questions about relationships and intimacy, family and identity, love and survival—she sets her tales in a world that is at once wholly recognizable and at times fantastic. Her protagonists inhabit a universe in which everyday objects—necklaces, river pebbles, birds, old overcoats, roses—become talismans that haunt and guide them as they navigate their way to a deeper understanding of themselves.
Perhaps Hoffman’s most enduring story is that of the Owens family, first introduced in the bestselling Practical Magic. “One of her most lyrical works,” (San Francisco Chronicle Book Review), it was made into a feature film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Hoffman’s latest novels have continued to deepen the saga starting with the “spellbinding” prequel (Publishers Weekly, starred review) The Rules of Magic, which kicked off Simon & Schuster’s Book Club Favorites initiative and was a selection for Reese’s Book Club. A television adaptation is in the works for HBO Max. The instant New York Times bestselling Magic Lessons soon followed, tracing the roots of the Owens family back to seventeenth-century Salem. The final installment, The Book of Magic, concludes the family story, a final chapter that, according to LitHub, “is sure to be another heartfelt celebration of mothers and daughters and the magic of falling in love.”
Another instant New York Times bestseller, The World That We Knew follows three young women in Berlin 1941 who must act with courage and to survive history’s darkest hour. Steeped in history and Jewish mythology, The World That We Knew is “[a] spellbinding portrait of what it means to be human in an inhuman world” (Kirkus, starred review). The book was named by O: The Oprah Magazine as one of the Best Books of fall 2019, and won both the Book Club Award from the National Jewish Council, and the 2020 Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
“Alice Hoffman’s new novel will break your heart, and then stitch it back together piece by piece. It’s about love and loss, about history and the world today, about what happens when man goes against the laws of nature for good and for evil. It’s my new favorite Hoffman book—and if you know how much I adore her writing, that’s truly saying something.”
—Jodi Picoult, bestselling author of Small Great Things and My Sister’s Keeper
Some of Hoffman’s most beloved titles include Faithful, the Indie Next Pick and the Library Reads Pick for November 2016; Here On Earth, a modern reworking of Wuthering Heights that was an Oprah Book Club selection; The Marriage of Opposites, about a forbidden love affair that results in the birth of artist Camille Pissarro; and The Dovekeepers, a New York Times bestseller set in ancient Israel. Hoffman’s fertile imagination extends well beyond the confines of adult literature. She has enthralled children and teens with her many young adult books, including The Green Witch, Incantation, and Nightbird.
Over the course of her long career, Hoffman’s novels have been recognized as notable books of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People. Her books have been translated into more than 20 different languages, and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, The Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, Premier, Self, and elsewhere.
In her lectures, Hoffman discusses the art of storytelling, her influences, the experience of being a writer, and the role of libraries in her life. Alice Hoffman was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island. She attended Adelphi University and received a master’s degree in creative writing from Stanford.here.