The Nightingale Won't Let You Sleep
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The Nightingale Won't Let You Sleep

“Powerful... an unsettling, affecting read... Heighton has created a novel about the meaning of home, the search for belonging, and the ongoing creation—and understanding—of the self... [He] brings his powers as a poet to service, not in terms of elevated or specialized diction, but in keen observation both of individuals and the larger world... The specificity and physicality of the language is evocative and, in context, electrifying... [He] exhibits a sensitivity to expression, gesture and tone that creates an almost visceral realism... [His] nuanced approach is both emblematic of the novel and the key to its success.”
—Robert Wiersema, Toronto Star  READ THE FULL REVIEW →

The Nightingale Won't Let You Sleep, a novel published by Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, March 2017

• Opening section published in The Walrus, January 2017
• To be published in the Ukraine by Nora Druk Publishers
• To be published in French translation by Les Editions Mémoire d'encrier
• Second printing, April 2017

“This book won't let the reader sleep… a rich and disturbing literary thriller.”
—Annie Proulx

“In scintillating prose and with masterly control of his plot and characters, poet and novelist Heighton (Afterlands) weaves a spellbinding tale of love, loyalty, and betrayal. This timely (press reports indicate that reunification talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders are advancing) novel is highly recommended to all readers.”
—Edward B. Cone, Library Journal (starred review)

“In North America today, there are few novelists like Heighton, an award-winning poet and essayist who also writes carefully plotted literary adventures... [He has] inherited a post-Conrad tradition, which extends from E.M. Forster to Graham Greene to John Le Carré... literary practitioners and epic storytellers. The Nightingale Won't Let You Sleep is a novel about big, global forces and small, intimate moments... Heighton is as attuned to the micro-politics of the village as to the macro-politics of Europe and the Middle East... His focus is sometimes hermetic, sometimes global, and he balances violent passages with lyrical descriptions of intimacy... The novel is full of beautiful asides. It's also full of memorable characters whose friendships are fraught and rich... For Heighton, there is no place that's removed from history; there are only people who dream of living in such places.”
—Simon Lewsen, The Walrus  READ THE FULL REVIEW →

“[A] brilliant storyteller … [His] exquisite, powerful meditations on who we are place Heighton among the great Canadian writers … His focus is contemporary, but he is a practitioner of the old school, a writer for those who love to read widely and deeply.”
—Donna Bailey Nurse, Literary Review of Canada

“External forces encroaching on self-sufficient territories are as much a signature of Heighton's novels as the carefully considered words and observations that lend his lines their voltage... The Nightingale Won't Let You Sleep demonstrates the vitality that marks all his fiction, verse and criticism.”
—David Chau, The National Post  READ THE FULL REVIEW →

“As this fascinating… well-plotted novel draws to a tense conclusion, Heighton skillfully knits together the difficult history and politics of the region, military machinations, and the nuanced inner lives and relationships of Elias and the villagers.”
Publishers Weekly   READ THE FULL REVIEW →

“In The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep, Heighton mashes up the best parts of the geo-political thriller, the historical narrative, and in-depth character study, lashing all these elements together with lyric prose and breathtaking design.”
—Rich Farrell, Numero Cinq   READ THE FULL REVIEW →

“Succeeds in conveying the sense of abandonment and decline of the old city that was the pride of Cyprus. Varosha functions in this book as a symbol of the destruction of a culture and a reminder of what humanity is capable of. This literary thriller is highly recommended.”
Elliniko Topos (The Greek Press)

“Throughout, his writing is vividly evocative both of the natural setting and of character, and above all it is richly lyrical, a prose that demands that the reader take time to savour the language.”
—Bob Douglas, Critics at Large  READ THE FULL REVIEW →

“A taut, expertly rendered literary thriller. Heighton is in full command of his material here, capable of balancing his characterization, points of view, braided themes, and tense plot points with an assured hand — all with sentences that hum off the page … Utterly inspired … Heighton remains a rare beast in Canada: a skilled poet who refuses to write his equally accomplished fiction in ‘poet voice’ … not a single purple phase or empty poeticism.”
—Mark Sampson, Winnipeg Review  READ THE FULL REVIEW →

“Compared with other books described as ‘thrillers’, Nightingale is more exciting, more beautiful, introspective, careful, and unique.”

“A first-rate poet and formidable short-story writer, Heighton's distractibility results in some fine textural writing... [Varosha] is a beguiling setting for a novel, and Heighton, clearly inspired by this ‘topiary city made of vines, wild grape and bougainvillea,’ does it justice through frequent, evocative description... Kaya is the novel's most inspired creation... And there's an appealing, Borgesian touch to Myrto, the village librarian whose personal project is to catalogue its books by ‘essence.’”

“An elegant fusion of political intrigue and romantic lyricism.”
—Jamie Portman, Vancouver Sun  READ THE FULL REVIEW →

“Steven Heighton writes with a beauty and a precision and a soul that's always astounded me. He captures the shock and trauma of war in a way that only a novelist at the height of his powers can. And he captures mid-leap that act of giving oneself completely to another in all its fragility and fear and grace that only a poet at the height of his powers can.”
—Joseph Boyden

“This is a thrilling story, set in an abandoned and 'forbidden' village in Cyprus. Each character is uniquely drawn; the interactions between characters carefully nuanced. Steven Heighton creates an unexpected and absorbing cast, thrown together as a result of war and circumstance. He shows that despite the very real effects of trauma, individuals are capable of experiencing a world that can also be gentle, and forgiving. This is a book you will not put down!”
—Frances Itani

“The plot is tense as the compelling characters come closer and closer to the dangerous edge—the easeful and charming Colonel Kaya, his viciously correct lieutenant, the psychologically damaged Elias, and the handful of refugee squatters who live in the ruins in fear of discovery, each of them with a troubled history, each hungry for love, acceptance and some kind of bearable life.”
—Annie Proulx

“A powerful engagement with war and its resultant consequences and dislocations. Heighton’s cast and setting are richly evoked and his dominant theme – the search for belonging in an inimical environment – is resonant. The poet’s ear is most apparent in the suppleness of the language, which is appropriate for a landscape that has the consistency of a dream, though one that is constantly threatened by the abrupt and vicious intrusion of barbarous reality.”
—Steven W. Beattie, The Hamilton Review  READ THE FULL REVIEW →

“As rendered in Steven Heighton's The Nightingale Won't Let You Sleep, Varosha is fantastically alluring, a place to seek refuge from the intrusive terrors of the 21st century — a ruin-as-paradise.”

“A beautiful writer... a gorgeous novel.”
—Sean Wilson, CBC All in a Day   LISTEN TO THE PODCAST →