Rebecca Dinerstein Knight is the winner of the 2015 Wallant Award. She is the author of Lofoten, a bilingual English-Norwegian collection of poems, The Sunlit Night, her debut novel, and HEX. She received her B.A. from Yale and her M.F.A. in Fiction from New York University, where she was a Rona Jaffe Graduate Fellow. She lives in Brooklyn. Follow her on Twitter @beckydinerstein and find out more on her website.
Nell Barber, an expelled PhD candidate in biological science, is exploring the fine line between poison and antidote, working alone to set a speed record for the detoxification of poisonous plants. Her mentor, Dr. Joan Kallas, is the hero of Nell's heart. Nell frequently finds herself standing in the doorway to Joan's office despite herself, mesmerized by Joan's elegance, success, and spiritual force.
Surrounded by Nell's ex, her best friend, her best friend's boyfriend, and Joan's buffoonish husband, the two scientists are tangled together at the center of a web of illicit relationships, grudges, and obsessions. All six are burdened by desire and ambition, and as they collide on the university campus, their attractions set in motion a domino effect of affairs and heartbreak.
Meanwhile, Nell slowly fills her empty apartment with poisonous plants to study, and she begins to keep a series of notebooks, all dedicated to Joan. She logs her research and how she spends her days, but the notebooks ultimately become a painstaking map of love. In a dazzling and unforgettable voice, Rebecca Dinerstein Knight has written a spellbinding novel of emotional and intellectual intensity.
"In her brilliant second novel, Rebecca Dinerstein Knight cannily explores both the poisons and the antidotes of love, ambition, mentorship, and yearning, and she does it all in prose so lively that I often found myself laughing with pleasure. Hex is some dark and joyous witchery." —Lauren Groff, author of Florida
“Rebecca has written a book that examines our natural and absolutely astounding reactions to each other. The language of this novel is so finely tailored, so elegant yet organic, so absorbing that it takes the reader a moment to realize that this is not just a deliciously engaging tale of what it is like to be social and sexual, but that this writing is an actual incantation in itself. It is a beautiful, spooky spell that divides and processes our innate potential for poison or pleasure.” —Jenny Slate, actress and author of Little Weirds
“Hex is sexy, unhinged, revelatory, so smart it gives the reader whiplash. It works on you like the poisonous plants that wind through the story line, until you’re as obsessed and intoxicated as the vivid characters that make up this love hexagon gone fascinatingly and beautifully wrong. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun reading a book or was so impressed by the wizardry of the language.” —Julie Buntin, author of Marlena
THE SUNLIT NIGHT (2015)
Rebecca Dinerstein Knight’s debut novel The Sunlit Night explores the intersection of two young lives: Frances, who flees her claustrophobic childhood apartment in Manhattan and seeks refuge at an obscure Norwegian artist colony; and Yasha, an eighteen-year-old Russian immigrant raised in a bakery in Brighton Beach, who heads north to carry out his beloved father’s last wish to be buried “at the top of the world.” The two meet in Lofoten, an archipelago in the Norwegian Sea. Their unlikely connection fortifies them against the turmoil of their distant homes and teaches them that however far they travel for independence, it is ultimately love that gives them their place in the world.
A “captivating debut novel…[Dinerstein’s] prose is lyrical and silky, but it’s also specific, with acute observations and precise detail, and she evokes the sun-stroked, barren Norwegian landscape with a striking sense of place. Her descriptions of Yasha’s grief and of the tentative love affair between Frances and Yasha are palpable with loss and yearning. With provocative insights about the cruelty of abandonment, the concept of home, and the limits of parental and filial love, Dinerstein’s novel is a rich reading experience.” — Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review
“Quirky, exuberant . . . An original work of gentle irony counterpoised by delightful sincerity, which offers distinct turns of phrase with precision and beauty.” ―Wall Street Journal
“The Norwegian Arctic of Dinerstein's imagination is a strange and wonderful place . . . the constant sunlight of midsummer feeds the book's dreamy, surreal quality . . . her narrative style is also dreamlike.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“Luminous . . . Dinerstein brings a contagious wonder to her storytelling.” ―The Season's Best Literary Fiction, O, the Oprah Magazine
“Darkly charming.” ―The New Yorker
“Lyrical as a poem, psychologically rich as a thriller, funny, dark, warm, and as knowing of place as any travel book or memoir, The Sunlit Night marks the appearance of a brave talent.” —Jonathan Safran Foer
“A richly imagined and darkly comic story about loneliness and love at the top of the world.” —Jenny Offill
“A poignant exploration of what it means to be alone in love, by a stunningly talented young writer.” —Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of The Language of Flowers
“Exhilarating…The Sunlit Night gets our appetites up—for more life lived, for love and community, for knowing ourselves, for relief and letting go. It’s a book you’ll be thankful for reading.” —Jenny Slate
“Dinerstein's deliciously melancholy debut . . . is light and lyrical and her descriptions of the far north are intoxicating . . . A poetic premise with language to match.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Readers will delight in the often surprising turns of phrase offered by debut novelist Dinerstein . . . The unusual setting and evocative language will appeal to those looking for a summer read with a bit more depth.” ―Booklist
“Engaging and alive . . . The Sunlit Night heralds the beginning of an intriguing career in fiction during which Dinerstein will hopefully continue to take us off the beaten path.” ―Huffington Post
“Funny!” ―#1 Vacay Read: "Stories to pack no matter where you're going", Marie Claire
“Get swept away to remote Norway with Dinerstein's lyrical prose about lovers Frances and Yasha. The sites are picturesque, the love is real, and anything can happen.” ―17 of the Best Books of Summer, Bustle
“10 Must-Read Books for June.” ―Flavorwire
“Dinerstein has demonstrated a level of mastery that would be impressive even in a much more seasoned writer. The Sunlit Night is a funny, wise and tender story, a near perfect blend of disparate elements.” ―ShelfAwareness
“Dinerstein's special blend of melancholy and hope renders a character-rich, multifaceted story.” ―Elle
“This poetically written novel . . . reminds us that love is more important than geography.” ―New York Post
“Refreshing . . . The author is a poet so the prose is, not surprisingly, lyrical but it's observant and witty, too.” ―The Daily Mail
“Just spectacular.” ―HelloGiggles
“Rebecca Dinerstein has created a tale full of lyrically crafted sentences . . . offering an introspective portrait of young adults coping with the backwash of their parents' disintegrating unions.” ―Library Journal
“It's hard to read The Sunlit Night without feeling as though you're enveloped in warmth, swathed by the author's lyricism and imagery. The sensation is one unique to Dinerstein's hand--and perfectly matched for the sun-soaked Nordic tale of lives intersecting at the top of the world.” ―Electric Literature
"Extraordinarily captivating . . . Lyrical, often darkly funny . . . Told against the extraordinary backdrop of sun-filled, endless Norwegian days, of the unique and striking colours that seep out and shine through Dinerstein's vibrant, precise, sun-splashed prose." ―The Irish Times
Rights: Bloomsbury/Bloomsbury UK, World English; Aschehoug, Norway; China Times, Complex Chinese; Bekad, Turkey; Actes Sud, France