Daniel, a middle-aged novelist and loving father alienated from one of his sons and unsure how to care for his daughter, is on his way to an international conference of writers. The gathering is to be held in the forest above a mountain village of a strangely dreamlike nature. In the twilight of the festival’s setting, dreams, memories, nightmares, and dark forebodings meld in Daniel’s unsettled but deeply sympathetic consciousness: He is haunted by pressing existential questions: What is to be done? What are his responsibilities as a father, as a friend — and as a writer? As Daniel confronts his own vanities, as he recalls the activism but also the disappointments and betrayals of friends and colleagues — as he contends with, above all, the fears and aspirations of his children in times marred by apocalypse, he asks, ultimately, what can be done?
In what may well be the most beautiful and disturbing of her novels, Marie-Claire Blais leads us on a heady, spellbinding journey through an interconnected world in which the artist strives to divert humankind’s headlong rush towards a terrible destiny. Here is a world in which friends and strangers, the living, the dead and those not yet born, are inextricably bonded by their often flawed but always splendid humanity. Yet again, Blais captivates with her urgent concerns, irrepressible empathy, and singular idiom: A Twilight Celebration is an astonishing literary accomplishment.