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Chris Bohjalian
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Profile created January 29, 2009
  • Skeletons at the Feast (2008)
    In January 1945, in the waning months of World War II, a small group of people begin the longest journey of their lives: an attempt to cross the remnants of the Third Reich, from Warsaw to the Rhine if necessary, to reach the British and American lines.

    Among the group is eighteen-year-old Anna Emmerich, the daughter of Prussian aristocrats. There is her lover, Callum Finella, a twenty-year-old Scottish prisoner of war who was brought from the stalag to her family’s farm as forced labor. And there is a twenty-six-year-old Wehrmacht corporal, who the pair know as Manfred–who is, in reality, Uri Singer, a Jew from Germany who managed to escape a train bound for Auschwitz.

    As they work their way west, they encounter a countryside ravaged by war. Their flight will test both Anna’s and Callum’s love, as well as their friendship with Manfred–assuming any of them even survive.

    Perhaps not since The English Patient has a novel so deftly captured both the power and poignancy of romance and the terror and tragedy of war. Skillfully portraying the flesh and blood of history, Chris Bohjalian has crafted a rich tapestry that puts a face on one of the twentieth century’s greatest tragedies–while creating, perhaps, a masterpiece that will haunt readers for generations.

  • The Double Bind (2007)
    Throughout his career, Chris Bohjalian has earned a reputation for writing novels that examine some of the most important issues of our time. With Midwives, he explored the literal and metaphoric place of birth in our culture. In The Buffalo Soldier, he introduced us to one of contemporary literature’s most beloved foster children. And in Before You Know Kindness, he plumbed animal rights, gun control, and what it means to be a parent.

    Chris Bohjalian’s riveting fiction keeps us awake deep into the night. As The New York Times has said, “Few writers can manipulate a plot with Bohjalian’s grace and power.” Now he is back with an ambitious new novel that travels between Jay Gatsby’s Long Island and rural New England, between the Roaring Twenties and the twenty-first century.

    When college sophomore Laurel Estabrook is attacked while riding her bicycle through Vermont’s back roads, her life is forever changed. Formerly outgoing, Laurel withdraws into her photography and begins to work at a homeless shelter. There she meets Bobbie Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box of photographs that he won’t let anyone see. When Bobbie dies suddenly, Laurel discovers that he was telling the truth: before he was homeless, Bobbie Crocker was a successful photographer who had indeed worked with such legends as Chuck Berry, Robert Frost, and Eartha Kitt.

    As Laurel’s fascination with Bobbie’s former life begins to merge into obsession, she becomes convinced that some of his photographs reveal a deeply hidden, dark family secret. Her search for the truth will lead her further from her old life—and into a cat-and-mouse game with pursuers who claim they want to save her.

    sIn this spellbinding literary thriller, rich with complex and compelling characters—including Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan—Chris Bohjalian takes readers on his most intriguing, most haunting, and most unforgettable journey yet.

  • Before You Know Kindness (2004)
    For ten summers, the Seton family—all three generations—met at their country home in New England to spend a week together playing tennis, badminton, and golf, and savoring gin and tonics on the wraparound porch to celebrate the end of the season. In the eleventh summer, everything changed. A hunting rifle with a single cartridge left in the chamber wound up in exactly the wrong hands at exactly the wrong time, and led to a nightmarish accident that put to the test the values that unite the family—and the convictions that just may pull it apart.

    Before You Know Kindness is a family saga that is timely in its examination of some of the most important issues of our era, and timeless in its exploration of the strange and unexpected places where we find love.

    As he did with his earlier masterpiece, Midwives, Chris Bohjalian has written a novel that is rich with unforgettable characters—and absolutely riveting in its page-turning intensity.

  • Idyll Banter: Weekly Excursions to a Very Small Town (2003)
    In March 1986, while living in Brooklyn, Chris Bohjalian and his wife were cab-napped on a Saturday night and taken on a forty-five-minute joy ride in which the driver ignored all traffic lights and stop signs. Around midnight he deposited the young couple on a near-deserted street, where police officers were about to storm a crack house. Bohjalian and his wife were told to hit the ground for their own protection. While lying on the pavement, Bohjalian's wife suggested that perhaps it was time to move to New England.

    Months later they traded in their co-op in Brooklyn for a century-old Victorian house in Lincoln, Vermont (population 975), and Bohjalian began chronicling life in that town in a wide variety of magazine essays and in his newspaper column, "Idyll Banter."

    These pieces, written weekly for twelve years and collected here for the first time, serve as a diary of both this writer's life and how America has been transformed in the last decade. Rich with idiosyncratic universals that come with being a parent, a child, and a spouse, Chris Bohjalian's personal observations are a reflection of our own common experience.

  • The Buffalo Soldier: A Novel (2002)
    With his trademark emotional heft and storytelling skill, bestselling author Chris Bohjalian presents this resonant novel about the formation of an unconventional family–the ties that bind it, and the strains that pull it apart. Two years after their twin daughters died in a flash flood, Terry and Laura Sheldon, a Vermont state trooper and his wife, take in a foster child. His name is Alfred; he is ten years old and African American. And he has passed through so many indifferent families that he can’t believe that his new one will last.

    In the ensuing months Terry and Laura will struggle to emerge from their shell of grief only to face an unexpected threat to their marriage; Terry’s involvement with another woman. Meanwhile, Alfred cautiously enters the family circle, and befriends an elderly neighbor who inspires him with the story of the buffalo soldiers, the black cavalrymen of the old West. Out of the entwining and unfolding of their lives, The Buffalo Soldier creates a suspenseful, moving portrait of a family, infused by Bohjalian’s moral complexity and narrative assurance.

  • Trans-Sister Radio (2000)
    With Trans-Sister Radio, Chris Bohjalian, author of the bestseller Midwives, again confronts his very human characters with issues larger than themselves, here tackling the explosive issue of gender.

    When Allison Banks develops a crush on Dana Stevens, she knows that he will give her what she needs most: attention, gentleness, kindness, passion. Her daughter, Carly, enthusiastically witnesses the change in her mother. But then a few months into their relationship, Dana tells Allison his secret: he has always been certain that he is a woman born into the wrong skin, and soon he will have a sex-change operation. Allison, overwhelmed by the depth of her passion, and finds herself unable to leave Dana. By deciding to stay, she finds she must confront questions most people never even consider. Not only will her own life and Carly’s be irrevocably changed, she will have to contend with the outrage of a small Vermont community and come to terms with her lover’s new body–hoping against hope that her love will transcend the physical.

  • Midwives (1998) -- Oprah Winfrey's Book Club, 1998
    A talented midwife is arrested for murder when she saves a baby by performing a Caesarean section once she believes the mother has died--only to have her assistant insist later that the woman was still very much alive. Told in the mesmerizing voice of the midwife's daughter, Midwives depicts the aftermath of the tragedy.

  • The Law of Similars (1999)
    From the best-selling author of Midwives comes a startlingly powerful story of three people whose lives are irrevocably changed by illness, healing, and love.
    Two years after his wife's sudden, accidental death, a Vermont deputy state prosecutor, Leland Fowler, finds that the stress of raising their small daughter alone has left him with a chronic sore throat. Desperate to rid himself of a malady that has somehow managed to elude conventional medicine, Leland turns to homeopath Carissa Lake--who cures both his sore throat and the aching loneliness at the root of his symptoms.

    Just days after Leland realizes he has fallen in love with the first woman who has mattered to him since his wife, one of Carissa's asthma patients falls into an allergy-induced coma. When Carissa comes under investigation, straight-arrow Leland is faced with a moral and ethical dilemma of enormous proportions.

    Set against the ongoing clash between conventional and alternative medicine--between what we know science can offer and the miracles that always seem to be just beyond our reach--The Law of Similars is a haunting and deeply atmospheric tale.

    Chris Bohjalian is known for the compassion and grace that mark his characters as well as for the sheer storytelling power that propels his fiction. With The Law of Similars, he has offered something more: a page-turning examination of the fragile threads that hold people together when the worst that can happen really does...and the unexpected and luminous ways we are made well. It is a remarkable achievement.

  • Water Witches (1995)
    Set in the Vermont countryside, Water Witches is a tale of the clash between progress and tradition, science and magic. In the midst of a nightmarish New England drought, cynical ski industry lobbyist Scottie Winston is trying to get a large ski resort the permits it needs to tap already beleaguered rivers for snow. His wife, his little girl, and his sister-in-law -- dowsers or "water witches" all -- hope to stop him, however, in this gentle, comic, life-affirming novel.

  • Past the Bleachers (1992)

  • Hangman (1991)

  • A Killing in the Real World (1988)

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