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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

Know the Night

A Memoir of Survival in the Small Hours

by (author) Maria Mutch

Knopf Canada
Initial publish date
Sep 2015
Personal Memoirs, General, Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2015
    List Price

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Finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction. An unforgettable, moving and beautifully written memoir on isolation, human connection and love, that will draw in readers of Annie Dillard and Joan Didion.
     For about two years, Maria Mutch's son Gabriel, who is severely autistic and has Down's syndrome, slept very little. In her incisive and poetic memoir, Maria shares the intensely personal challenges and revelations brought about by this period. As a baby, Gabriel's first words and affinity for sign language enthralled his adoring parents. When these words fell away, and his medical diagnoses multiplied, Maria committed herself entirely to Gabe's care. As his sleeping hours dwindled, care took place within an isolated, wakeful, often frightening world in which Maria's desire for connection and meaning expanded. She became fascinated with stories of Antarctic exploration, and found a companion in Admiral Richard Byrd, an explorer who lived by himself in the polar darkness for months in 1934 and later wrote about his struggle for survival in a book called Alone.
     Re-imagining Byrd's story and interweaving it with her own, Maria illuminates a search for love and understanding against the terrors of the unknown that will resonate with anyone who has lain awake in the dark, or longed to protect a loved one. Know the Night is a powerful journey into the mysteries of the night and the human mind, and a testament to the extraordinary bond between mother and child.

About the author

Maria Mutch is a Canadian writer whose memoir, Know the Night, was a finalist for both the Governor General’s Literary Awards and the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, and was listed in The Globe and Mail’s Top 100 and Maclean’s Best Reads. Her debut short story collection, When We Were Birds, received stellar reviews, and her writing has appeared in Guernica, The Malahat Review, and Poets & Writers. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and two sons. Visit her at or follow her on Twitter @Maria_Mutch.

Maria Mutch's profile page

Editorial Reviews

   • Finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction 

   • A Globe and Mail Best Book and an "Memoir Too Powerful to Put Down"

Praise for Know the Night:
"A beautiful, singular book." --The Globe and Mail
"A transcendent memoir.... An intricate narrative.... [An] extraordinary story." --The Chronicle Herald
"An exhibition of literary eloquence, a tale set in darkness, but filled with light, and a moving debut memoir about maternal love." --Bustle
"Mutch's writing is poetic and sharp; she captures the darkness and turns it into something vivid and alive. Mutch's skill, honesty and emotion turn Know the Night from a book about isolation into a powerful story of human connection." --The Coast (Halifax)

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