A raw, absorbing, tender, and witty novel about a woman's long-overdue reckoning with memory, truth, and the multiverse of familial love.
Elin Henriksen is a middle-aged single parent under pressure. Her formidable mother's health is declining, her fearless teenage daughter wants to leave but won't say where, and the new high school principal has problems with her unorthodox teaching of physics.
And then there is the upcoming ceremony at the Art Museum. In ten days, a gallery will be named after her late father, Tig Henriksen, a modernist furniture designer whose sought-after cult pieces hide a troubled narrative. With a mixture of anticipation and dread, Elin prepares to reunite with her once-estranged siblings--Mette, a free-spirited singer-songwriter, and the serious, emotionally distant architect Casper--hoping they'll finally grapple with hard truths they've so far refused to accept.
In the countdown to the event, as her daughter's risk-taking mounts, her mother's fragility intensifies and strange packages land on her doorstep (including a yellow-eyed dog), Elin's only relief is confiding to a dead physicist.
Struggling with the paradoxes of truth and clarity, love and witness, genius and ambition, and her own ambivalent connection to her confessor, she inches toward confronting not just the explosive potential of memory but the costly fallout of silence.
Told with dazzling insight, intelligence, and compassion, Half Life is a beautifully rendered story about family truths and the profound human need to be believed.
KRISTA FOSS's short fiction has appeared in Granta and has twice been a finalist for the Journey Prize. Her first novel, Smoke River, won the Hamilton Literary Award. She's an award-winning essayist who has worked as a bartender, journalist, and teacher. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and lives in Hamilton, Ontario.
Praise for Half Life and Krista Foss:
“Every sentence is alive in this miraculous novel—one in which the listening ear of Niels Bohr bends towards an aspiring physicist, where history walks beside science, and where a world ‘undaunted by paradox’ exists only in theory. What do we believe, and who, and why? How do we continue if denied the love entwined with belief? What if forgiveness itself becomes a lasting injury? Krista Foss has a vast heart. She is a stunning writer.” —Madeleine Thien, author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing
“This is the most beautiful novel I’ve read in a long time. Each chapter reveals new treasures: holographic, exquisite, shattering. I read it with wonder. Krista Foss is an artist.” —Sarah Selecky, author of Radiant Shimmering Light
“A sensitive portrayal of one woman's attempt to find her place in the world, while grappling with the decades-long fallout from a family rift. Emotionally complex and beautifully written, Foss's Half Life is a tender exploration of the perils of silence and the power that can come from speaking the truth.” —Saleema Nawaz, author of Songs for the End of the World
“Krista Foss wields language with the precision and beauty of a shard of glass, delicate yet knife-like. With intelligence, wit, and uncanny insight, she explores the complexities of family dynamics gently and viscerally, like a tongue probing an aching tooth. Half Life is a mesmerizing novel about the chain reaction set off by the choices we make, the stories we tell ourselves, and the secrets we keep.” —Amy Jones, author of Every Little Piece of Me