NIGHT by Etel Adnan in The New York Times

NIGHT by Etel Adnan in The New York Times

"A meditative heir to Nie­tzsche’s aphorisms, Rilke’s 'Book of Hours' and the ­verses of Sufi mysticism, 'Night' is an intricate thread of reflections on pain and beauty.

To 'constitute spirit,' as Adnan puts it — or become our best selves, as others might have it — she advocates opening our minds and memories to encounter the world, to nurture a love from our radical correspondences with the dispossessed or overshadowed:

I entered once someone’s memory, I say through his brain, the seat of his illuminations. The place was planted with olive trees, and mathematical equations. On one of the trees was hanging a Van Gogh painting. The ground of that house of memory had been once the bed of a river that had run through still another person’s brain. All this constitutes my spirit.

Adnan’s language summons transcendent experiences, like shibboleths the poet utters to cross a room without 'thinking'  it. An empathy with ­other worlds has been a constant in this Arab-American’s work, whether embracing Syrian immigrants and Palestinian orphans in her classic Lebanese civil war novella 'Sitt Marie Rose' — essential reading to grasp our current refugee crises — or here in 'Night.' Adnan’s collection is “a cosmic phenomenon,” to borrow another phrase from the book, “elevating us far above our daily condition.'"

- Benjamin Hollander for The New York Times