The Book of Nights

The Book of Nights marks the American debut of one of Europe’s most powerful and celebrated young writers. Winner of six literary prizes, The Book of Nights combines the timeless power of medieval legend, the resonance of Greek tragedy, and the harsh immediacy of a newsreel.

Sylvie Germain traces a century in the life of the Peniel family, and especially the life of Victor-Flandrin Peniel (nicknamed Night-of-gold-Wolf-face because of the hereditary gold fleck in the eye). It is Victor-Flandrin—larger than life yet fully human—who acts as focal point for the intertwined stories of the Peniels (including Victor’s four wives and fifteen children); of their lovers and enemies; and of the endless cycle of birth and death, triumph and loss, madness and passion, eroticism and holocaust—from the Franco-Prussian War to World War II—that envelops and buffets their lives. Blending the historical with the supernatural, the comic with the grotesque, the lyrical and the brutal, Sylvie Germain tells the story of humanity’s strivings and vanity, of the profound injustices that govern our relations, and of the fundamental strength that allows us ultimately to triumph over carnage and degradation. The Book of Nights is a “powerfully, deeply felt, imaginative” book (Times Literary Supplement) by a fresh and compelling new voice.

Sylvie Germain was born in Chateauroux in Central France in 1954. She read philosophy at the Sorbonne, being awarded a doctorate. From 1987 until the summer of 1993 she taught philosophy at the French School in Prague. She now lives in Angouleme. Sylvie
Germain is the author of thirteen works of fiction. Her work has been translated into twenty one languages and has received worldwide acclaim. Sylvie Germain’s first novel The Book of Nights was published to France to great acclaim in 1985. It has won five literary prizes as well as the TLS Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize in England.The novel’s story is continued in Night of Amber in 1987. Her third novel Days of Anger won the Prix Femina in 1989.

Her next novel Magnus, was written in fragments, and creates a powerful study of the Holocaust and the long shadow it left. It won the Goncourt Lyceen Prize for the best French novel of 2005.

Christine Donougher was born in England in 1954. She read English and French at Cambridge and after a career in publishing is now a freelance translator and editor. Her translation of The Book of Nights won the 1992 Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize.