The sequel to Sylvie Germain’s highly acclaimed The Book of Nights (Godine, 1993; a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), Night of Amber continues the grotesque, fantastic, and riveting story of the Peniel family. It ranges from the terror and atrocity of the Algerian War to the frenzied Paris of May ’68. Like The Book of Nights, which it brings to a dramatic conclusion, this is “an unusual and passionate” novel (Times Literary Supplement) that skillfully blends myth, history, memorable characters, and pure emotional intensity.
The hero of the novel is Charles-Victor Peniel, called “Night-of-Amber,” whose lonely and angry childhood eventually lands him in Paris at the time of the May ’68 riots. There, Charles-Victor becomes involved with a band of dangerous companions, and in a whirlwind situation that spins uncontrollably into sadism and murder.
Arguably the greatest writer of her generation.
—BBC World Service
There is little that can be said which would do justice to the controlled brilliance of Sylvie Germain’s writings. Night of Amber is a fantastic book, a wildly inventive novel about childhood, death, war, and much else. It creates a rich fantasy world, yet it is also very moving, and deals with the emotions of grief and love with an understanding and insight which few writers can match.
—The [London] Sunday Times
Germain’s visualization of her character is first-class and her descriptions of his crazy visions have plenty of vigor and imagination.
Original and compelling… takes [magic and realism] to the outer limit and then fearlessly hurls one against the other.
—New York Times Book Review (Notable Book of the Year, 1993)
It’s hard to avoid thinking of One Hundred Years of Solitude, but the comparison does no disservice to Germain’s novel, so powerful is it…a brilliant book, beautifully translated.
Little by little, the novel’s miraculous births and deaths project archetypal family situations as unflinchingly as the tales of the Brothers Grimm.
—Robert Tayler, Boston Globe