For many, the idea of living off the land is a romantic
notion left to stories of olden days or wishful dreams
at the office. But it becomes Sara Loewen's way
of life each summer as her family settles into their
remote cabin on Uyak Bay for the height of salmon
season. With this connection to thousands of years
of fishing and gathering at its core, Gaining Daylight
explores what it means to balance lives on two
islands, living both within an ancient way of life and
the modern world. Her personal essays integrate
natural and island history with her experiences of
fishing and family life as well as the challenges of
living at the northern edge of the Pacific.
Loewen’s writing is richly descriptive; readers can
almost feel heat from wood stoves, smell smoking
salmon, and spot the ways the ocean blues change
with the season. With honesty and humor, Loewen
easily draws readers into her world, sharing the
rewards of subsistence lifestyle and the peace
brought by miles of crisp solitude.
With quiet grace, Lowen writes of her children, marriage, and home and her place within it. More pragmatic than romantic, this is what life in Alaska is really about.
Loewen's essays are exquisite slices of life . . . this solemn, spare book is an intimate and loving look at a life that very few people live."
[Gaining Daylight] is a wonderful debut that deftly spans Loewen’s own inner and Alaskan geographies with a rare intimacy, elegance, and steadfastness. Like the tides on Uyak Bay, the essays move with a certain rightness and loveliness, a definite rhythm—and so we are moved by them.
Sara Loewen teaches writing at Kodiak College during the winter and spends the summer in Uyak Bay with her husband and two sons, where they fish commercially for salmon.
WILLA: WILLA Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction