I was certain I would one day tell my father’s story; the one of his cold and adventurous childhood. But that’s not what happened. The story I thought was mine, in fact was not. The story I rejected, turned out to be.
Several years after his mother’s death, he finally opens her journal. The one she kept when he was a child. She called it her night book, and passed it on to him in her old age. Do whatever you want with it, she said, read it or don’t bother. He reluctantly accepted it. He had long before shut her out of his world.
Mother by Night is a portrait of a woman, and a deeply personal novel about two people who live a life together without ever getting to know one another. Niels Fredrik Dahl explores depression, inheritance and loneliness in this brilliant depiction of childhood, family, and addiction. But Mother by Night is also a tale of love. Love shattered, and put back together.
“Mother by Night may very well be Niels Fredrik Dahl’s strongest novel to date … Increasingly often, novels take us into to the very core of relationships, whether pure fiction or on the semi-biographical field. A reader may think that there must soon hardly exist more takes on the subject. Then along comes Niels Fredrik Dahl and makes it gleam as if it was utterly new … The low-key sentences are ostensibly simple and can contain compassionate insight, contempt and despair all at the same time, but also great love – some of them so beautiful that the reader must pause for a moment before carrying on reading … Mother by Night is a novel that leaves the reader sitting at the kitchen table all morning, breakfast untouched. All the way until the conclusion.”
“Wise and moving … Niels Fredrik Dahl has written a raw yet beautiful story about an author and his mother … Whether the journal entries and other events are authentic or not is irrelevant; Dahl makes one believe it, and the mother’s despairing text becomes a trembling red thread throughout the book … Dahl is at his best when relating the inner struggle of the main character. Alcoholism, writer’s block and infidelity are portrayed in an unadorned, raw and painful style … clear, powerful and distinctive prose”
“A fragile son, a melancholy mother, an urge for intoxication. A relationship. In his first novel in eight years, Niels Fredrik Dahl writes musically about the nocturnal sides of mankind … Dahl writes sorely and openly, and at the same time with distinct finesse, about the relationship’s ambivalence. About all that which could never be expressed when the mother was alive … It tears at the heart. The patterns he perceives, yet is incapable of changing … The nuances of it, the games, the communication. The great loneliness that envelopes people. Including those who should be close. Particularly those who should be close … It is easy to read Mother by Night as an autobiography, and shroud it in so called reality. But it is not a novel that needs it.”
“In Niels Fredrik Dahl’s stirring novel, only death is capable of repairing broken love … The intimate exposition is nonetheless tenderly treated; the substance distilled into sensitive literature. It is love, not hate and aggression, that makes this account possible … It is eight years since Dahl published his last novel … With Mother by Night he once again proves that he belongs among the authors one should read.”
“This portrait, which is as much of a self-portrait, is rendered with candor as its beacon. But this beacon shines in a night that is as ruthlessly pitch black as it is gleaming in its darkness. In this night, a son reaches for his mother, clutches at her anxiety over being a mother, tries to understand her impulse to escape, and perceives the same impulse in himself. Mother By Night is written with the poet’s perfect pitch for the resonance and rhythm of language, and the novelist’s analytical acuity. A wonderful alloy. A literary experience that awakens you to the beat of you own heart.”
Danish rights sold to Gyldendal
French rights sold to Actes Sud
Swedish rights sold to Natur & Kultur
Phone: +46 70-669 05 68
19 October 2018
21 November 2017