An unnamed American couple travels to a strange, snowy European city to adopt a baby. It’s a difficult journey that leaves the wife, who is struggling with cancer, desperately weak, and her husband worries that her illness will prevent the orphanage from releasing their child.
On arrival, the couple checks into the cavernous and eerily deserted Borgarfjaroasysla Grand Imperial Hotel where the bar is always open and the lobby populated with an enigmatic cast of characters ranging from an ancient, flamboyant chanteuse to a debauched businessman to an enigmatic faith healer. Nothing is as it seems in this baffling, frozen world, and the more the couple struggles to claim their baby, the less they seem to know about their marriage, themselves, and life itself.
For readers of Ian McEwan, Elizabeth Strout, and Iris Murdoch, What Happens at Night is a "masterpiece" (Edmund White) poised on the cusp of reality, told by "an elegantly acute and mysteriously beguiling writer" (Richard Eder, The Boston Globe).
“The prose in What Happens at Night is faultlessly elegant and quietly menacing, like a tuxedo lined with knives. I can’t think of another book at once so beautiful and so unnerving, so poised between miracle and disaster. Peter Cameron is one of America’s greatest writers, the living stylist I most revere.” —Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You and Cleanness
"In his characteristically precise and lucid prose, Peter Cameron invents a virtuosic tale that is by turns terrifying, comic, and heartbreaking. We do not always know whether we are in the realm of the real or the hallucinatory in this thrillingly mysterious and gorgeously written novel. What is never in doubt is that we are in the hands of a ravishing stylist and a supremely gifted storyteller." —Sigrid Nunez, author of The Friend
“So strange and unsettling that I found it a perfect book for these times . . . This book is as weird as the moment we’re living in, but infinitely more enjoyable." — Allison Arieff, San Francisco Chronicle