Originally published in 1995 under the title Soifs, the first novel in Marie-Claire Blais’ masterful series won the Governor General’s Award for French Fiction and was hailed by critics around the world as a tour de force, comparing Blais to such literary greats as Virginia Woolf, Dante, Sophocles, and Shakespeare. In this dazzling rendering, These Festive Nights, celebrated translator Sheila Fischman brings Blais’ novel to life for English-speaking readers.
A sun-drenched paradise in the Gulf of Mexico surrounded by the glimmering blue sea; Renata is convalescing on this island poised between two worlds: between great wealth and extreme poverty, between the past and an uncertain future, between the beauty of the world and the horrors of history.
During her time here, Renata becomes tormented by thirst — for justice, for pleasure, for intoxication — while all around her, festivities are going on in join celebration of the birth of baby Vincent and the end of the twentieth century. Over the course of three days and three nights a flock of characters assembles: wealthy, poor, writers, artists facing their own mortality, children immersed in innocent games, young men dying of AIDS, refugees, the Ku Klux Klan — an entire spectrum of humanity is depicted in the grip of doubt and suffering. In this swirling, baroque fresco, Marie-Claire Blais captures the essence of our apocalyptic age, rendering it in powerfully evocative prose.