I received an advanced copy of this book from the author through NetGalley. This edition of the book is translated by Michael Hoffman.
When the book opens, Gillian is waking up in a hospital room after a terrible car accident. Her husband, Matthias, is dead, and she has been terribly disfigured. She must undergo several operations to repair her nose and make her look normal again. As Gillian spends a lot of time alone, she contemplates her previous life as a wife, a television news journalist and a minor celebrity.
On the night of the accident, Gillian had a terrible fight with her husband and they were both drinking heavily. Matthias found nude pictures of Gillian and confronted her about them. Gillian had conducted an interview with an artist named Hubert whose specialty was taking pictures of and painting nude women. Gillian starts meeting Hubert in secret and he tries to paint her nude as well, but he seems to have lost his artistic inspiration.
The second part of the book is narrated by Hubert himself. He is stuck in a marriage in which there is no real depth of emotions. When he met Gillian his artistic creativity is on the wane and he cannot quite figure out how to get it back. Hubert takes a job teaching art at a local college, which means more financial stability for his wife and son, but he seems unfulfilled and uninspired.
The range of emotions that the author conveys in this short novel is astonishing. Gillian feels guilt, pain, remorse and finally happiness. Hubert feels stifled, jealous and confused. This book brings to light the contrast between what we are on the outside and who we actually are behind the façade. Can Gillian and Hubert reconnect and get beyond their past? Can Hubert fully disconnect from his wife and move on? ALL DAYS ARE NIGHT is a short read, yet it is full of dialogue that will make you contemplate life, personal identity and the passage of time.
About The Author:
Peter Stamm grew up in Weinfelden in the canton of Thurgau the son of an accountant. After completing primary and secondary school he spent three years as an apprentice accountant and then 5 as an accountant. He then chose to go back to school at the University of Zurich taking courses in a variety of fields including English studies, Business informatics, Psychology, and Psychopathology. During this time he also worked as an intern at a psychiatric clinic. After living for a time in New York, Paris, and Scandinavia he settled down in 1990 as a writer and freelance journalist in Zurich. He wrote articles for, among others, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the Tages-Anzeiger, Die Weltwoche, and the satirical newspaper Nebelspalter. Since 1997 he has belonged to the editorial staff of the quarterly literary magazine “Entwürfe für Literatur.” He lives in Winterthur.
3 responses to “Review: All Days are Night by Peter Stamm”
This story reminds me a little of The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint, in which the main character, a painter named Jilly Coppercorn, must convalesce for months after a car accident. During this time she confronts painful past events and big conflicts with her sister. In any case, it is a useful way to frame a story, forcing much of the “action” into the emotional realm. Sound like a good story!
Sounds like this one packs a punch. Lovely review!
It’s a short book with a lot to think about. Thanks so much!