"A perfect book."―Edmund White, author of A Boy's Own Story and Genet: A Biography
WINNER OF THE 2019 NATIONAL TRANSLATION AWARD
In June 1897, the young Constantine Cavafy arrives in Paris on the last stop of a long European tour, a trip that will deeply shape his future and push him toward his poetic inclination. With this lyrical novel, tinged with a hallucinatory eroticism that unfolds over three unforgettable days, celebrated Greek author Ersi Sotiropoulos depicts Cavafy in the midst of a journey of self-discovery across a continent on the brink of massive change. He is by turns exhilarated and tormented by his homosexuality; the Greek-Turkish War has ended in Greece’s defeat and humiliation; France is torn by the Dreyfus Affair, and Cavafy’s native Alexandria has surrendered to the indolent rhythms of the East. A stunning portrait of a budding author—before he became C.P. Cavafy, one of the 20th century’s greatest poets—that illuminates the complex relationship of art, life, and the erotic desires that trigger creativity.
"The novel is as sensual as it is erudite, a stirringly intimate exploration of the private, earthy place where creation commences.”
—The Wall Street Journal
"A remarkable novel ... both a radiant work of the imagination and a fitting tribute to the greatest Greek poet of the twentieth century."
—The Times Literary Supplement
"Engaging and original ... powerfully erotic ... This is a hallucinatory work of art, in every sense."
—The Literary Review
"A lyrical and erotic reimagining of the gay Greek-Alexandrian poet C.P. Cavafy’s three-day trip to Paris in 1897 ... dizzying, fevered and beautiful."
"In most lives there are no crucial moments, only representative ones. What’s Left of the Night illuminates three days in 1897 when Constantine Cavafy began to glimpse what would be his destiny (his voice and his subject) as a major poet. Sotiropoulos notices every encounter and records every intuition with a lyrical, impressionistic style of her own. A perfect book."
—Edmund White, author of A Boy's Own Story and Genet: A Biography
"Exquisite ... Admirers of Cavafy will love this convincing portrait of the poet as a young man. But even those new to his work will be beguiled by Cavafy’s Paris and this close scrutiny of a poet’s mind — his wavering between faith and despair at his own talent, his desire to be heard. Sotiropoulos’s novel, with its own distinctive style, is a worthy tribute to a great man."
—The Times of London
"Sotiropoulos is a fine storyteller ... Her story has pulse, momentum, certainly a power one can call inspired ... Sotiropoulos’s Cavafy will ... arrest your gaze and make you look closer, seek the echoes and the traces of a life whose fullness and stark abstraction cannot fail to mesmerise you."
"Striking ... Sotiropoulos’s novel is both a loving tribute to a seminal Greek poet and a contemplative, fascinating reflection on the drive to create art."
"Ringingly written ... lushly described ... A portrait of an artist coming into his own that even those unfamiliar with Cavafy will find absorbing."
"A whirlwind novel, full of sensations, and events that sweep the reader along ... There is so much to love about What’s Left of the Night: passionate discussions of literature and poetry, extravagant soirées, descriptions of the cultural epoch that gave birth to Proust and the conflicts that would later give rise to World War I. But, most importantly, the book captures the beautiful struggle of trying to reconstruct what it must be like to be tormented by art and language, like Cavafy was."
"In 1897 the young Greek-Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy and his brother are passing through a phantasmagoric Paris. Sotiropoulos, one of Greece’s most senior novelists, tenderly demonstrates her empathy with the poet’s homosexuality and his anxiety for his emergent literary reputation, set against fin-de-siècle decadence and pretentiousness. An exciting read."
—The Irish Times
"Blissfully dizzying the reader ... strikes a chord of dark beauty, visceral grossness, and ironic humor indistinguishable from the experience of reading Cavafy’s poetry."
—The Los Angeles Review of Books
"This is not a book to miss ... Scenes burn in the memory long after they have been read."
—The Bay Area Reporter
"Sotiropoulos has done an incredible job of painting a naturalistic scene of Paris as it was during the Dreyfus affair while giving a glimpse into what it was like to be a poet at that time. Cavafy's original approach to poetry is what set him apart from his contemporaries. Readers may well leave this novel with a sincere desire to pick up a book of his poetry. A beautiful portrait of an aspiring poet."
"Equal parts a character study and a treatise on the creative mind, the novel boldly provokes questions about the relationship between an artist’s life and his art, specifically the quality of art that is born out of immense suffering. Rather than succumbing to shame, whether self-inflicted or socially imposed, the novel suggests that the cure for such darkness lies in transmuting misery into works of beauty ... Haunting and enthralling."
"This elegant translation by Karen Emmerich of a provocative account of C.P. Cavafy's visit to Paris, based on published sources and archival work combined with novelist Ersi Sotiropoulos's rich imagination, illuminates an artist in ways that will please both those already familiar with Cavafy and those discovering this great poet of the past century."
—Edmund Keeley, author of Cavafy's Alexandria and translator, with Philip Sherrard, of C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems
"Imaginative ... Karen Emmerich does a wonderful job translating the original Greek, with an English that flows easily, while keeping the feel of poetry. A well-researched, sympathetic novel, it should inspire readers to discover or rediscover Cavafy's poetry."
—The Gay & Lesbian Review
"Beautiful, flowing and sensual, with an extreme mastery of rhythm."
—Words Without Borders
"A colorful fabric of Cavafy’s memories and reflections."
"Sensual, evocative, beautifully written and translated, this book is a wonder."
—Lynn Freed, author of The Last Laugh and The Romance of Elsewhere
“A mesmerizing, sophisticated portrait of an artist coming into his own power.”
—Maureen N. McLane, author of My Poets and Some Say
"Splendid ... limpid and passionate ... fluid and musical, Ersi Sotiropoulos's prose says it perfectly ... You can read this beautiful book by Ersi Sotiropoulos as an account of three key days in the life of Constantine Cavafy. You can read it as a passionate introduction to his work ... but you can also see it on a more metaphorical level. That of a reflection about art. How is it born? Where does it come from?"
“Ersi Sotiropoulos fathoms with acuity the birth of her hero's unique voice ... In language marked by chiaroscuro, sobs and sublime anger, she suggests that the gloomy darkness of real life is often the breeding ground of a great oeuvre."
“Sensual, carnal and profound, this novel manages to render through its own rhythm the scansion of Greek verse, thereby transporting us along on the wanderings of one of the greatest poets in the history of world literature. Not to be missed.”
—Les Chroniques culturelles