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Alix Ohlin, assistant professor of English, has authored an acclaimed debut novel, The Missing Person.

Published this month by Knopf, The Missing Person is set in New Mexico over a long hot summer of surprises and discoveries. Protagonist Lynn Fleming happily abandoned dusty Albuquerque to study art history in New York, but when her younger brother disappears, she reluctantly answers their mother’s summons and returns home. Although she soon finds Wylie among the eco-warriors for whom he’s a philosopher king, she begins to realize how much else is still missing. Her memories of her late cherished father are compromised by her mother’s relationship with a married man. And her fascination with two paintings her father left behind leads her to question everything she’d believed about her parents’ marriage and, by extension, her own behavior. Meanwhile, her attempt to regain Wylie’s affection is unsettled by her affair with one of his cohorts, even as the pranks they play – in order to protect the landscape they see being violated all around them – grow increasingly serious and then spiral out of control, putting everyone at risk

“This promising debut is intelligent, insightful and often bitterly funny. A knowing and witty take on family ties, the politics of art and academia, and eco-terrorism,” states Publishers Weekly.

Critically acclaimed novelists also praise the book.

“Just when you wonder how we can possibly reinvent the coming-of-age novel, along comes Alix Ohlin,” says Jay McInerney. “The Missing Person is a funny, quirky and whip-smart debut. Ohlin has a great eye, a great ear and all the other equipment auguring a very successful future.”

“Alix Ohlin is a skillful storyteller, and her heroine is attractively quick-witted and wry,” states J. M. Coetzee. “The Missing Person is an impressively assured debut novel.”

“With precise language and careful detail, Alix Ohlin takes us into the shadows of Albuquerque to reveal yesterday’s monkey-wrenchers who have become today’s eco-terrorists — tattered, beer-drinking, angry, pierced, tattooed, alienated, and committed to the soul of earth. A wonderful debut by a terrific young writer,” notes Chris Offutt.

“Alix Ohlin’s seductively droll, page-turning portrait of the subcultures that exist within families — and without — is as tenderhearted and raw as it is unsentimental and smart. Ohlin is that rare find — a writer of emotionally intelligent (and intelligently emotional) fiction. Expect to hear her spoken of in the same reverent breath as Lorrie Moore and Joy Williams,” says Heidi Julavits.

Before joining Lafayette faculty last fall, Ohlin was writer-in-residence at Portsmouth Abbey School and instructor at Inkberry Center for Writing in the Berkshires since 2002. Her fiction has appeared in the One Story series and Shenandoah, among other periodicals, and in Best New American Voices 2004. She has received awards and fellowships from The Atlantic Monthly, the MacDowell Colony, and The Kenyon Review’sWriters Workshop.

She holds an M.F.A. from University of Texas at Austin’s Michener Center for Writers and a B.A. in English and American literature and language from Harvard University.

Categorized in: Academic News