PRAISE FOR THE NIGHT GUEST
Winner of a NSW Premier's Prize.
Shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Stella Prize, an LA Times Book Review Prize, an Australian Book Industry Award, an INDIE Award, and the Dobbie Prize.
'The Night Guest is such an accomplished and polished debut. There's a delicacy and poignancy to the writing, combined with almost unbearable suspense. I love books in which I have no idea what's going to happen next.'
Kate Atkinson, author of Life After Life
'A rapturous, fearsome fable of grief and love.'
Susanna Moore, author of In the Cut
'The Night Guest is an extraordinary novel. At once a tender thriller and an exquisitely constructed meditation on time and memory, it is propelled by sentence after sentence of masterful prose. With The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane announces herself as a writer to be read, admired, and read again.'
Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds
'An enrapturing debut novel that toys with magical realism while delivering a fresh fable.'
'Sometimes a debut novel burns brighter than the rest, and offers up the promise of literary greatness. The Night Guest is one of these books. Through impeccable narrative control and deft manipulation of the reader’s experience, McFarlane opens Ruth’s mind to us, leads us into this foreign world, and makes us feel Ruth’s terrifying, infuriating disorientation. In doing so, she achieves that great object of fiction — empathy, compassion for a different human life. The Night Guest is an important and exciting first novel by an Australian writer of rare talent. Or, as we might say down under: “a bloody good read.”'
James McNamara, LA Review of Books
'Rich and suspenseful . . . McFarlane gives a flourish to even the smallest observations . . . This book is at once a beautifully imagined portrait of isolation and an unsettling psychological thriller.'
'Impressive ... McFarlane is in complete control ... dotting her narrative with careful, cumulative details like a pointillist painter ... There's precision in her choice of words and their sense of anticipation dangles the reader over the lip of every page ... [The novel] is a clear sighted and compelling exploration of the metaphors and realities of ageing with all its anxiety and wobbly paranoia, and you love Ruth as you travel with her to the book's end and the dreadful pragmatism of familial grief.'
'An exceptional debut by a writer of great talent.'
'Haunting ... When I finished the novel I was taken by [McFarlane's] skill. Now I'm mesmerised by it ... While McFarlane pulls the most stirring emotional strings with ease, she tells a poignant, unsettlingly beautiful story that still keeps me up at night.'
'McFarlane is not content to be predictable. Having mingled two genres already, the realist and the fabulist (probably the best descriptor here), she then introduces another, quite seamlessly. The novel mutates into a narrative that is increasingly sinister, with a mystery at its core.There is subterfuge, smuggling, in the writing of The Night Guest. It imports 'genre' techniques into the genre 'literary'. . . In this novel, the captor ultimately comes to care, beyond mercenary play-acting, for the frail, defenseless creature she had originally intended no good. This point is subtle and interesting; it shows, perhaps more than anything else, that McFarlane is no ordinary young novelist. Not many debut novelists make you think about technique by deploying it with such sophistication. This aspect of the book is particularly evident in its ending. McFarlane has to bring the narrative to a close and she has a lot of information to impart and threads to tie up. She could try for a mystery ending, with all revealed, or an equally conventional realist literary conclusion. Or, daringly, she could do both . . . McFarlane has taken a number of diverse elements – the nursery tale tiger of Victoriana, allegory, advances in neuroscience, the callous greed of those who exploit the mentally impaired aged – and shaped them into a narrative that is not only coherent, but for the most part, adroitly controlled. The Night Guest is a novel both unpredictable and unusual . . . [McFarlane] deserves a space in the national literature.'
Sydney Review of Books
'The Night Guest's precise and elegant prose has been praised...but what really stands out is its portrayal of one life lived...This forms the heart of the book...and it is rendered with extraordinary maturity.'
'Its joy comes from McFarlane's language, which perfectly captures Ruth's old-fashioned, gently rebellious spirit, and the almost enjoyable onset of vagueness...This is a very moving description of old age.'
'Be prepared: on the day you sit down to read this book, you will become an antisocial, distressed and confused person. You will probably utter no words all day but a whispered "Oh God" when you finish each chapter and have to, but have to, go on to the next, neglecting your life, your family, your bills, your work, your washing. How dare a 35-year-old author from Sydney be such a super writer - the kind of writer who half-makes you think "I could write a novel like that", because it seems so effortless, but half-makes you think "I might as well give up writing right now", because it's so good?'
'The achievement of McFarlane's book is to demonstrate with such clarity and measured compassion that the mind, in the end, is where all tigers live.'
'A novel of uncanny emotional penetration; it had me flipping to the back cover more than once to scrutinize the author photo. How could anyone so young portray so persuasively what it feels like to look back on a lot more life than you can see in front of you? . . . A low thrum of terror builds ever so gradually as The Night Guest proceeds, and its source is the slippery connection between the mind and the world . . . What makes The Night Guest especially unnerving is the way it immerses the reader in a mind that is slowly slipping its moorings. As McFarlane depicts it, in clean, sinuous prose, you begin to lose your self by burrowing deeper inside it . . . You’re in [Ruth’s] head, and that head gets less and less sound as the novel progresses, but it’s a strangely delightful place to be, for all the darkness surrounding it.'