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Eight White Nights: A Novel Hardcover – February 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374228426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374228422
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,217,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This feverish novel from the author of Call Me by Your Name takes a microscope to a torrid romance–cum–battle of the sexes between two 20-something New Yorkers. Clara Brunschvicg and the unnamed narrator meet at a swank Christmas Eve party and immediately jockey for position. The ensuing grappling plays out over the course of the seven nights between that party and New Year's Eve. The motor that makes this dual character portrait hum is the narrator's uncertainty about sardonic beauty Clara's murky intentions. Aciman knows these types well, filling their romance with coffees, wealthy friends in Hudson County, and Rohmer film festivals, and he concocts ever more complex scenarios to dramatize the tension and uncertainty. This smart book is rich with the details of how skittish lovers interact. Aciman creates a private vernacular for the two while rarely failing to miss a telling smile or let so much as a line of dialogue go wasted. At times the narrator's wordiness drags—particularly when he intersperses the play-by-play of an intense moment with an extended analysis of the scene—but, mostly, the novel is taut and entirely authentic. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Aciman's mesmerizing and, at times, maddening pas de deux plunges readers into the dizzying early stages of a new relationship, with mixed results. Most critics appreciated Aciman's nods to various novelists, poets, and composers--particularly Proust and Dostoevsky--but a few found the continuous stream of clever references belabored and affected. Aciman's decision to disengage his characters from the more humdrum realities of 21st-century life (such as unemployment, the economy, and the war in Afghanistan) left them strangely uprooted and diminished, and all but the Washington Post eventually grew tired of the narrator's perpetual interior monologues. However, Aciman's acute psychological insights and poetic language made up for many of these complaints: Eight White Nights is a perceptive, if somewhat flawed, portrayal of an unusual romance.

More About the Author

André Aciman was born in Alexandria, Egypt and is an American memoirist, essayist, novelist, and scholar of seventeenth-century literature. He has also written many essays and reviews on Marcel Proust. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The New Republic, Condé Nast Traveler, The Paris Review, Granta as well as in many volumes of The Best American Essays.

Aciman grew up in a multilingual and multinational family and attended English-language schools, first in Alexandria and later, after his family moved to Italy in 1965, in Rome. In 1968, Aciman's family moved again, this time to New York City, where he graduated in 1973 from Lehman College. Aciman received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University and, after teaching at Princeton University and Bard College, is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York. He is currently chair of the Ph. D. Program in Comparative Literature and founder and director of The Writers' Institute at the Graduate Center. He has also taught creative writing at New York University, Cooper Union, and and Yeshiva University. In 2009, Aciman was also Visiting Distinguished Writer at Wesleyan University.

Aciman is the author of the Whiting Award-winning memoir Out of Egypt (1995), an account of his childhood as a Jew growing up in post-colonial Egypt. His books and essays have been translated in many languages. In addition to Out of Egypt (1995), Aciman has published False Papers: Essays in Exile and Memory (2001) and Alibis: Essays on Elswhere (2011), and three novels, Harvard Square (2013), Eight White Nights (2010) and Call Me By Your Name (2007), for which he won the Lambda Literary Award for Men's Fiction (2008). He also edited Letters of Transit (1999) and The Proust Project (2004) and prefaced Monsieur Proust (2003), The Light of New York (2007), Condé Nast Traveler's Room With a View (2010) and Stefan Zweig's Journey to the Past (2010).

He is currently working on a novel tentatively entitled Enigma.

Customer Reviews

I'm finishing the book.
Vicky L.
I am only glad I checked it out from the library and did not buy it.
Amazon Customer
Compelling and original, the book is beautifully written.
Jilann S. Picariello

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By peter at scandinavianbooks.com on March 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Eight White Nights: A Novel Aciman's novel is an in-depth analysis of a romance involving, it would seem, two New York intellectuals in their late twenties. It is a strange journey. In intellectualism New York fashion everything is analyzed and re-analyzed. The conversations, thoughts, movements, reactions, every tiny little gesture laid out for study. And, of course, what is thought but not said, and what could possibly have been thought an said by the main character, the unnamed narrator who sees it all, senses it all, and is as omni-potent as a combine of Freud, Marcüse and Sartre.

It starts with a Christmas party on the Upper West Side, Riverside Drive. Clara meets the speaker behind the Christmas tree, and introduces herself with the words, "I am Clara." Then follows page after page about the introduction. "I am Clara". Which to me seems very much like the ordinary, customary, relatively polite way of introducing oneself at a party. But for Aciman this seemingly is a revelation. Three words signifying a world of opportunity.

Starting from this odd night, each of the following nights are discussed and described in pretty much the same level of detail. And as the relationship develops - admittedly with some funny and amusing misunderstandings - more suggestive meanings are conjured. But nothing really happens? They don't - as one might put it - consummate the relationship. And from start to end there are lots of really deep discussions, yet even so, I can't honestly say that I ever felt I really came close to the characters - their souls, what made them tick, the inner beings.
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Format: Hardcover
Author Andre Aciman's intense analysis of a budding romance between two New Yorkers in their late twenties reveals every conversation, every thought, every re-thought, every imagined slight, every regret about lost opportunities, and every romantic question in the lives of these two characters as they test the waters for a new relationship. An unnamed narrator accustomed to the good life (and, apparently, with no need to work), meets Clara Brunschvicg at a posh Christmas party on the Upper West Side. Clara meets the speaker behind the Christmas tree, and introduces herself with the words, "I am Clara."

As the evening progresses, the reader watches the interactions of the speaker and Clara--the oneupsmanship, the "gotcha moments," the arch smart-aleckyness of two educated people trying to impress each other with how bright and "with it" they are. Literary references fall from their lips with ease--Homer, poet Henry Vaughan, and Dostoevsky appear in their early conversations. They even invent their own "cute" vocabulary as they chat: "Pandangst" for pandemic anxiety, "Shukoffs" for people they want to avoid at the party, "VishnukrishnuVindalu" for sexuality, "the rose garden" for love. They discover, not surprisingly, that they are both fans of the art films of experimental French filmmaker Eric Rohmer, who features articulate young people in new romances which play havoc with their psyches.

By the time the speaker leaves the Christmas Eve party, he is fantasizing about a future with Clara and has made plans to meet her at a Rohmer film the next night. In the meantime, he analyzes and overanalyzes every moment of their meeting and their conversations, dithering constantly about the impression he may have made and what she may have thought.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Francois Desplan on March 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have a love-love relationship with New York City books, that is, books based in New York, about New York's ideas and ideals (or the quest to create such), books populated with New York's oddballs, eccentrics, wordsmiths, artists, everyday characters, mothers, children, you get the point. I don't even mind a little pretension peppered in there, because, well, let's face it, among the city's residents are some of the more self-consciously aware, brainy, grown-up and successful nerds you're bound to find on the planet. Ok, all that being said, I find it nearly impossible to get through a third of this book, even though I started with the best of hopes and found myself initially drawn in by the language and the observation of daily details and subtler human emotions. There was too much there. The lily was gilded and then bronzed and then gilded again. The layering of detail upon detail, the mining of every possible nuance from the soil of how we feel, how we are, what we are, etc. might aspire to the Proustian as one newspaper reviewer put it, but for me, for me, the result was something very crafted, contrived, and overblown... not at all human. I don't think we as a people feel or remember this way. It is something computerized, mechanical, edited for effect. All of the "I am Clara's and I x y z.." were enough to make me audibly groan at certain moments, to the point that after the last such time, my wife turned and kindly but firmly reminded me that I DID have a choice in the matter.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Elton T. Elliott on April 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
After reading Andre Aciman's first novel, "Call Me By Your Name", I knew that this new novel, "Eight White Nights" would be exactly the type of book I would want to read. Not only that, I also knew that I would read the book out loud to myself from the beginning to the end much like listening to it on audio. Aciman has a real knack for lyrical writing and unlike some of the other reviewers here who didn't appreciate that so much, I never tire of reading his prose and much of it is so beautiful, I stopped right then and there and read those parts over again and again. Yes, it took me two weeks to finish the book that way, but I don't begrudge one second of that time and I know I'll do it again.

I must admit that I was hooked on the book early because I once lived in Manhattan on the Upper West Side in the late `60's and early `70's not far from one of the significant locations in the book which was 106th Street and Riverside drive. When I was there, I lived on Broadway, one avenue block east and 111th Street, five blocks north. That close proximity of the two adjacent neighborhoods brought back many pleasant memories. It won't be necessary to have that connection though for you to enjoy the book. As other reviews have indicated, the novel chronicles the beginning of a relationship between a woman named Clara and an unnamed male narrator. The man dissects what happens between the two in almost every psychological way possible. I love psychological novels and it didn't bother me that there were many things not to like about both the man and the woman because that's true in real life as well. Think about it, have you ever met anyone in life who is totally likable and has no flaws at all or very few?
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