Nights Too Short to Dance

  • Translated by: Katia Grubisic
  • Pages:216
  • Publisher:Second Story Press
  • Themes:Transgender, Queer rights, Stonewall Riots, AIDS pandemic, Trans man
  • Available:10/17/2023

René suddenly feels like an old man. Recovering at home after an illness, his mind will not leave the past. He is both comforted and annoyed by the officious care provided by his Russian nurse, who keeps referring to him as a woman. It is a lifetime struggle. Right now, René just wants to get out of his pajamas and dress elegantly, as in the old days of playing piano in cabarets. A friend—or lover—will surely visit? And they do. René is soon surrounded. By the writer Johnie, the musician Doudouline, the theologian Polydor, the painter l’Abeille, and Gérard, who was lost but never forgotten. 
They support each other, offering shelter from the snowy world outside. They reminisce about past loves, tragedies, fights. The Stonewall riots. The AIDS epidemic where they lost so much. The Women’s March on Washington. They steel themselves to take on the monster of bigotry and intolerance whenever it rears its ugly head, as it always does, again and again.
Most of all, they find comfort and hope in each other’s presence and in the continuing struggle to assert our own identities, to love how we wish, and to not be defined by what society expects.
An icon of queer literature, Marie-Claire Blais’s characters bring to life pivotal moments in the fight for queer rights.

"Nights Too Short to Dance is an impassioned call for love, justice and collective action that, in Katia Grubisic’s vibrant translation, thrums with poignancy and urgency—a work of vast empathy amid menacing times."

– Pasha Malla, author of Kill the Mall and The Withdrawal Method

"[Blais] left behind a remarkable literary edifice that, in the words of her almost exact contemporary Margaret Atwood, 'spoke from that seething, fermenting, francophone-Canadian sensibility – formed by decades of repression by the Duplessis mini-dictatorship and also by the Church.' Repression, in fact, might be considered the bête noire of the author’s entire oeuvre, a force she battled against with every fibre of her writerly being. Nowhere is this more apparent than in her last novel."

– Quill and Quire

"The novel weaves in and out and back and forth over more than 50 years…. It all comes out in a beautiful cacophony: love, fidelity, marriage, resistance, sex, aging, death…. Grubisic does an amazing job with the translation, capturing the youthfulness of the chorus of characters and René’s passionate digressions.”

– Xtra!

"Though Blais is gone, her legacy remains, and now readers can enjoy a new, posthumously published novel in her distinctive voice."

– Open Book

"A poetic rumination on what it means to live. Blais reminds us, in her novel filled to the brim with love, of the agonizing fleetingness of life."

– Montreal Review of Books