Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pub. Date: July 14, 2020
The book’s title comes from the Swedish holiday, Midsummer Eve, which takes place during Sweden’s summer solstice and is celebrated all day and all night under the light of Sweden’s midnight sun. The story revolves around a troubled 28-year-old female adjunct professor and her unlikely friendship with an 18-year-old female Swedish student who invites her teacher home for the summer. The story is actually about grief for they have both lost their parents and are mentally struggling. The teacher stays hidden in the background. The student craves attention to fill her empty emotions. The author shines when capturing her characters’ loneliness and grief. Zinna’s best writing is in the strong sensory imaginary that allow the reader to experience Midsummer Eve with its maypoles, crown flower wreaths, singing, and dancing. As well as the turmoil created, when an adult is trying to fit into a teenage world that celebrates as if the holiday is the infamous Woodstock festival from the 1960s. However, although the prose is deep the story manages to drag. As a fan of literary fiction, I am aware that the novel will be a slow-paced character-driven read that usually focuses on the human condition, and less concerned with a fast-paced plot, which some readers prefer. So, I understand why fans of popular fiction could be turned off by “All Night.”Still, for literary fiction to keep your interest one needs to be invested in the protagonist’s growth, which I was not in this novel. Still, this is a debut novel and the author shows talent with its beautiful prose. I look forward to reading her next novel.
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