Alice Hoffman

The novelist chooses classic works of fiction to inspire the writer within.



In novels like Practical Magic and The Red Garden, Alice Hoffman transforms the lives of her characters with a literary sorcery all her own. Her new novel, The Dovekeepers, follows four young women who join an army of Jews fighting Roman rule in the ancient Judean desert. This week, Hoffman offers us a peek at her bookshelf, choosing three favorites that include the inspiration for her 1998 novel Here on Earth.


Books by Alice Hoffman



Wuthering Heights

By Emily Brontë


"The greatest psychological novel ever written, a book that changes every time you read it, as brutal and raw as it is mystical. Wuthering Heights is a ghost story, a history, a mystery, a genre-bending book of such beauty it takes your breath away. This astounding novel deals with love and death, time and forgiveness and gives us the most compelling anti-hero in all literature in the character of Heathcliff. There is no other love story that can compare to the one shared by headstrong Cathy and lost, doomed Heathcliff. If I were stranded on a desert island and had only one book with me, I would want it to be Emily Brontë's masterpiece."



Something Wicked This Way Comes

By Ray Bradbury


"Literary icon Ray Bradbury's chilling, suspenseful story of a dark carnival that comes to an all-American town is the original night circus. Two boys, best friends Will Hallowell and Jim Nightshade, must fight evil in the form of Mr. Dark, the ringmaster, in order to protect their town and families. Everything is at stake. This is a world of illustrated men, mysterious witches, and sideshows, but ultimately the novel is about the power of love. Nostalgic, scary, heartwarming, this book is a true original that has influenced so many current writers, including me!"



The Collected Stories

By Grace Paley


"One of the greatest short story writers, Grace Paley gives us her New York world, a great gift for one and all. These are truthful, beautiful tales of small lives and big hearts, of women who believe in grass-roots politics and in the people they love. Paley's characters are those who have been uprooted, the old, the poor, the up-and-coming, the immigrant -- in short, the inhabitants of the city of New York. Paley writes in the rhythm of Yiddish, Russian, and New Yorkese, and she gets the map of the human heart exactly right in every single story."

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."