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Fiction Transgender

Nights Too Short to Dance

by (author) Marie-Claire Blais

translated by Katia Grubisic

Second Story Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2023
Transgender, General, Literary
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2023
    List Price

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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.

About the authors

Born in 1939 in Québec, Marie-Claire Blais continues to dominate the literary landscape. Having published her first novel at the age of twenty, she has gone on to publish twenty novels to date in France and Quebec—all of which have been translated into English—as well as five plays and several collections of poetry. All of her writings have met with international acclaim.Talon has published her American Notebooks, a fascinating autobiographical account of the intellectual flowering of a great writer.Winner of the Prix Médicis, the Prix Belgo-Canadien, the Prix France-Québec, and many others, Blais continues to devote herself to work that is proud and exacting. Most recently, she has been invited, as one of the very few foreigners allowed, to join Belgium’s Academy of French Language and Literature.

Marie-Claire Blais' profile page

Katia Grubisic is a writer, editor, and translator whose work has appeared in various Canadian and international publications including The Walrus, The Fiddlehead, The Globe and Mail, Grain, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and Prairie Fire. Her collection What if red ran out (Goose Lane Editions, 2008) was shortlisted for the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry and won the 2009 Gerald Lampert award for best first book.Her book translations include Louis Patrick Leroux’s play False Starts: A Subterfuge of Excellent Wit (with Alexandre St-Laurent; Talonbooks, 2016), Martine Delvaux’s White Out (LLP, 2018), Jeanne Painchaud’s ABCMTL (ruelle, 2019), Stéphane Martelly’s Little Girl Gazelle (ruelle, 2020), Ioana Georgescu’s Daughterof Here (LLP, 2020), and Marie-Claire Blais’s Songs for Angel (House of Anansi, 2021). Her translations of David Clerson’s first novel, Brothers (QC Fiction, 2016), and of Alina Dumitrescu’s A Cemetery for Bees (LLP, 2021) were shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for translation.

Katia Grubisic's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"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."

Quill and Quire

"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

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

Open Book

"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.”


"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

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