In The Sunlit Night, two lost souls meet by chance ninety-five miles north of the Arctic Circle on an archipelago of tiny islands in the Norwegian Sea. Twenty-one-year-old Frances has come to intern with an artist who is painting a barn in shades of yellow. Just before she arrives, Frances broke up with her boyfriend, who bluntly informed her that what she does doesn’t help anyone, and discovered her family is on the verge of disintegrating. Seventeen-year-old Yasha arrives to carry out his father’s unusual final wishes, while his long-absent mother makes a sudden reappearance in his life.
In this rather surreal environment of endless light and foreign culture, Frances and Yasha piece their lives together as they fumble toward unexpected love and an ability to accept and let go of the past. A poet, Dinerstein’s words and images are fresh, evocative, and, at times, thoroughly humorous. (It is almost impossible to forget Yasha’s mother moving through scenes, dressed as a Valkyrie, complete with huge wings). Dinerstein’s well-chosen literary allusions further deepen the reader’s enjoyment. In sum, The Sunlit Night is a well-written, original novel that is a pleasure to read.
(Originally published at San Francisco Book Review.)