The backstory: Crawling at Night was longlisted for the 2002 Orange Prize.
The basics: Ito is a sushi chef who works with Mariane, an alcoholic waitress. Both are haunted by their past: for Ito, the life left behind in Japan, and for Mariane, the daughter she chose adoption for fifteen years ago.
My thoughts: As someone who both worked in restaurants full-time for several years (and met Mr. Nomadreader while working together at the same restaurant) and has a fondness for food, wine and city life, I expected to love Crawling at Night. It is certainly a novel of urban despair, and I'm not generally one to shy away from bleak novels. I wouldn't, however, have chosen to read this one during the read-a-thon had I known just how bleak it was. I finished it, but it effectively killed my reading mood.
Crawling at Night is written with a haunting beauty. It is raw and gritty. It may make many readers uncomfortable at times. Its characters are unlikable. While typically I don't have a problem with these things. In this story, it was simply too much. Perhaps I needed more characters to spread around the grim realities of their lives. As I read, I kept wishing it were a movie. Somehow watching these people would have been less bleak. Sharing their sad internal thoughts was discomforting.
The verdict: Crawling at Night is a raw, dark, difficult novel, but it is certainly one with merit. It didn't fully resonate with me, but I admire what Nani Power tries to do with it.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Length: 240 pages
Publication date: April 9, 2011
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