THE ALL-NIGHT SUN BY DIANE ZINNA
LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE AND THE VCU CABELL FIRST NOVELIST AWARD
“Inventive and luminous…. Zinna’s intimate debut dazzles with original language, emotional sentience, and Swedish folklore as it plumbs the depths of grief, loss, and friendship [and] reaches an inspired emotional depth that, as the title signifies, never stops blazing.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A lonely young woman gets too close to her charismatic female student in this propulsive debut, culminating in a dangerously debauched Midsommar’s Eve.
Lauren Cress teaches writing at a small college outside of Washington, DC. In the classroom, she is poised, smart, and kind, well liked by her students and colleagues. But in her personal life, Lauren is troubled and isolated, still grappling with the sudden death of her parents ten years earlier. She seems to exist at a remove from everyone around her until a new student joins her class: charming, magnetic Siri, who appears to be everything Lauren wishes she could be. They fall headlong into an all-consuming friendship that makes Lauren feel as though she is reclaiming her lost adolescence.
When Siri invites her on a trip home to Sweden for the summer, Lauren impulsively accepts, intrigued by how Siri describes it: green, fresh, and new, everything just thawing out. But once there, Lauren finds herself drawn to Siri’s enigmatic, brooding brother, Magnus. Siri is resentful, and Lauren starts to see a new side of her friend: selfish, reckless, self-destructive, even cruel. On their last night together, Lauren accompanies Siri and her friends on a seaside camping trip to celebrate Midsommar’s Eve, a night when no one sleeps, boundaries blur, and under the light of the unsetting sun, things take a dark turn.
Ultimately, Lauren must acknowledge the truth of what happened with Siri and come to terms with her own tragic past in this gorgeously written, deeply felt debut about the transformative relationships that often come to us when things feel darkest.
When she was in her mid-twenties, debut author Diane Zinna found herself completely on her own in a new city, teaching at a small Catholic college outside of DC. She was in the middle of a long period of grief following the loss of both of her parents when she met and befriended a Swedish student at the school. Their bond deepened, and the student invited her to visit Sweden with her for the summer. This trip was a sort of thawing out for Zinna, and the start of a long-awaited healing process. But questions stuck in her mind long after she returned home: what if things had gone wrong on the trip, when Zinna was still so emotionally fragile? What if things took a turn at the school she worked at, which had been a lifeline for her at the time? What would she have had to learn to keep going? Out of these questions came THE ALL-NIGHT SUN (Random House Trade Paperback; On Sale 8/3/2021), a propulsive, memorable debut.
Lauren Cress is a professor at a small college, and in the classroom she is poised, smart, and beloved by her students. But internally she is deeply scarred by the loss of both of her parents, and still grapples with her grief daily. She is overcome with loneliness, until a magnetic Swedish student joins her class and slowly befriends her. Siri is everything Lauren wishes she herself could be: charming, fun, and free. When she invites Lauren home with her to Sweden for the summer, it’s an easy decision. Siri promises everything will feel fresh and new, just thawing out after a long winter. It sounds like everything Lauren craves, so she impulsively agrees.
At first, all is well. Lauren is delighted to be in Sweden, a landscape that seems to pulse with magic. But things grow tense when Lauren finds herself drawn to Siri’s enigmatic brother Magnus, the one person she made her promise to stay away from. Siri is resentful, and Lauren starts to see a new side of her friend: selfish, reckless, self-destructive, even cruel. On the last night of her trip, Lauren accompanies Siri and her friends on a seaside camping trip to celebrate Midsommar’s Eve, a night when no one sleeps, boundaries blur, and under the light of the unsetting sun, things take a dark turn.
Ultimately Lauren must acknowledge the truth of what happened with Siri and come to terms with her own tragic past in this gorgeously written, deeply felt debut about the transformative relationships that come to us when things feel darkest.
“In The All-Night Sun, Diane Zinna displays her deep understanding of the writing craft…. Her stunning debut novel is a twisting tale of grief, hope and self-deceit, a story as mesmerizing as the young women at its heart.”—BookPage (starred review)
“[An] unsettling, mesmerizing debut…. In gently hypnotic prose, Zinna beautifully explores the transformative powers of grief, loneliness, intimate friendships, and the hunger we have to be understood.” —Refinery29 (“The 25 Books You’ll Want To Read This Summer”)
“Diane Zinna’s The All-Night Sun is an unexpected love story—about rebirth after loss, about the human connections that art and literature enable, about the adventures we undertake and the tales we tell ourselves to get by. It’s also about risk and sorrow, about how our stories can fatefully mask reality. This is a memorable and meaningful novel.” —Claire Messud, New York Times bestselling author of The Burning Girl
“This stunning debut novel explores the space between dreams and nightmares, life and death, the brilliance of the midnight sun and the darkness when you shut your eyes. Diane Zinna has given us a tender, aching, and unforgettable story.” —Julia Phillips, author of the National Book Award finalist Disappearing Earth
“The All-Night Sun is a provocative examination of the often-blurred boundaries between teacher and student as well as the disorienting effects of grief. Using language so suffused with light and color that it’s hard to look away from her words, Diane Zinna writes movingly about family, friendship, psychic black holes, and the ways in which art and writing can ameliorate the damage life etches on us all.” —Jennifer Steil, author of The Ambassador’s Wife
“Diane Zinna carves her sentences on the page. This book is compulsively readable because no scene or paragraph goes to waste; each nuance of thought and feeling gets traced with generous intensity. Zinna renders all the vivid saturations of grief, but not just that: she also traces the complicated fretwork of young friendship. This book shows how coming-of-age and elegy can be the same story.” —Emily Fridlund, author of the Booker Prize finalist History of Wolves
“Sensuous and hypnotic, The All-Night Sun reveals the many ways in which grief can distort one’s judgement and even one’s allegiance to the truth. Diane Zinna has gifted an empathic prose-poem to anyone who has felt displaced by loss and in search of a path out of the stalemate of memory.” —Pamela Erens, author of Eleven Hours
“The All-Night Sun illuminates the unwieldy paths the human mind will follow when chased by grief, loneliness, and the failure of memory. In lyrical, dreamlike prose, Diane Zinna’s mångata leads her characters from profound loss to the promise of wounds healed. An impressive debut by a gifted writer.” —Chris Cander, author of The Weight of a Piano
“The All-Night Sun is about loss, guilt, faith, friendship, and, as the title also suggests, the human ability to go on. Zinna offers everything I come to a novel hoping for—a compelling protagonist, graceful prose, first-rate storytelling, and deep compassion for her characters.” —Lori Ostlund, author of After the Parade
“A mesmerizing, disturbing, and heart-wrenching read about loneliness and grief. Diane Zinna writes sentences that will break you, and then suddenly everything on the page lights up again, and you go on the rollercoaster that is love, and loss, and life. With poetic and hypnotic prose, The All-Night Sun is an essential addition to fiction on grief and a compelling story about female friendship, its limits and constraints, and the surprising ways it can make us whole.” —Natalie Jenner, author of The Jane Austen Society
“The All-Night Sun is a testament to the power of storytelling. In much the same way that she pursues her emptiness across an ocean, the rawness of Lauren’s pain will have readers chasing her through the pages. The lies she tells herself—and others—about her past become the ghosts which simultaneously accuse and exonerate her. As she unravels and cuts through the tangles of her experience, we can’t help but cheer.” —Benjamin Ludwig, author of Ginny Moon
“Diane Zinna has written a mesmerizing story of how grief can pull us together while pulling us under. She is a writer deft with a paintbrush of words illustrating the dark hues of the deepest emotions. Her brilliant story is the heartfelt tale of Lauren and Siri, both orphans with pain shadowing their futures, which sends them on a journey together. Throughout the novel, we never quit wondering if they or their friendship will survive. The All-Night Sun is a gorgeous tribute to grief in all its forms, and how we have to go through it to get to the other side—there’s no way around it.” —Amy Wallen, author of When We Were Ghouls: A Memoir of Ghost Stories
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Diane Zinna is originally from Long Island, New York. She received her MFA from the University of Florida and has taught writing workshops for more than a decade. She formerly worked at AWP, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, and in 2014, Diane created the Writer to Writer Mentorship Program, helping to match more than six hundred writers over twelve seasons. Diane has become well-known for her popular, online grief writing sessions that have grown each Sunday since the start of the pandemic. Diane lives in Fairfax, Virginia, with her husband and daughter. The All-Night Sun is her first novel.