Alice Hoffman is the author of several novels and short stories; she has also written screenplays. She has a knack for turning the ordinary into the extraordinary, and writing is her only vocation.
Hoffman was born March 16, 1952, in New York City. Her father, a real estate agent, and her mother, a social worker, divorced when she was eight years old. After her parents’ separation, Hoffman remained with her mother, a woman who was university educated as well as an avid reader. As she grew up in Franklin Square on Long Island, New York, Hoffman, too, spent a great deal of her time immersed in literature. She was a voracious reader with a passion for science fiction, fairy tales, and anything to do with magic. Stories about normal families encountering the fantastic were Hoffman’s favorites.
Hoffman has never outgrown her childhood interest in magic or love of creating her own fantasy worlds. From a young age she enjoyed writing. Throughout her childhood she filled notebooks with different versions of spectacular fantasy worlds, and she has said that she “always wanted to be a writer.” After graduating from high school she entered Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. She received encouragement from her professors and gradually began to gain confidence in her work. After she completed her B.A. degree in 1973, she was awarded a Mirelles Fellowship to the M.F.A. program at Stanford University. While attending Stanford, Hoffman studied under Albert Guerard. Hoffman earned her M.A. degree in 1975, and the following summer she attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference at Middlebury College in Vermont.
As Hoffman pursued her M.A. degree, her work began to appear in print. Magazines including Ms., Redbook, Fiction, and American Review published her short stories and helped launch her career. Before she even had a chance to cultivate her reputation as a short-story writer, a publishing house contacted her about writing a novel. The novel she delivered was Property Of. Published in 1977, Property Of quickly garnered critical praise and was hailed as “an impressive debut.” With Property Of, the story of a troubled love affair between a seventeen-year-old girl and the leader of an urban gang, Hoffman established herself as realist capable of rendering everyday occurrences as something fabulous.
In 1979 Hoffman published her second novel, The Drowning Season. The central characters of the novel are Esther the White, a Russian emigrée, and her granddaughter, Esther the Black; the story...
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