From the author of Ice Diaries, winner of the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival Grand Prize, praised by the New York Times as “stunningly written,” and a Guardian Best Book of 2018
Set in the throes of Brexit-era London, Day for Night is an unflinching exploration of desire, gender, and history, in which a married filmmaking duo seeks to tell the tragic story of 1940s German Jewish intellectual Walter Benjamin, while their own relationship and nation are imploding behind the camera in real-time
Richard Cottar is a respected independent film writer and director; his wife, Joanna, is his increasingly successful and wealthy producer. Together they are about to embark on a film about the life of Walter Benjamin, the German Jewish intellectual who killed himself in northern Spain while on the run from the Nazis in 1940. In what looks set to be the last year of Britain’s membership of the European Union, Benjamin’s story of exile and statelessness is more relevant than ever. But Richard and Joanna’s symbiotic life takes a sudden turn when they cast an intelligent, sexually ambiguous young actor in the role of Walter Benjamin. In a climate of fear and a bizarre, superheated year redolent of sex and hidden desire, Richard and Joanna must confront their relationship, Benjamin’s tragic history, and the future of their country.
Taking its cue from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Day for Night is an unsettling, riveting story of reversals — of gender, power, and history.
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Jean McNeil is the author of 14 books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and travel. She has twice been the winner of the PRISM International competition, and her work has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Journey Prize, the National Magazine awards, and the Pushcart Prize. She is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Originally from Nova Scotia, she lives in London, England.
Published: May 2021
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.
“Set in 2018, on the eve of Brexit, the novel offers a play of light and dark figures as it moves from the art of filmmaking to Benjamin’s sense of stateless and impending doom, which finds an echo in Richard and Joanna’s foreboding about their marriage and the consequences of Brexit. A captivating mix of angst and wry humor.” — Library Journal
“Evocatively written … Taking its title from a cinematic technique in which night scenes can be filmed during daylight, the novel is also acute in its descriptions of films and filmmaking, capturing the intensity and strange intimacy of film shoots.” — Winnipeg Free Press
“In Day for Night, Jean McNeil has written another in a series of powerful novels, one that draws the reader into a world that is at once familiar but rapidly becoming unrecognizable.” — Miramichi Reader
“McNeil’s writing is spare and lush at the same time … the book invites us to look at our darkness and how we can channel it into something that at least mimics lightness to the world watching.” — Quill & Quire, starred
“Day For Night hooked me from its first gorgeous lines, striking evocative prose, marvellous sentences that swept me along much in the way of Virginia Woolf’s Street Haunting … It’s a rich and satisfying project.” — Pickle Me This blog