An unnamed American couple travels to a strange, snowy European city to adopt a baby. It’s a difficult journey that leaves the wife, who is struggling with cancer, desperately weak, and her husband worries that her illness will prevent the orphanage from releasing their child.
On arrival, the couple checks into the cavernous and eerily deserted Borgarfjaroasysla Grand Imperial Hotel where the bar is always open and the lobby populated with an enigmatic cast of characters ranging from an ancient, flamboyant chanteuse to a debauched businessman to an enigmatic faith healer. Nothing is as it seems in this baffling, frozen world, and the more the couple struggles to claim their baby, the less they seem to know about their marriage, themselves, and life itself.
For readers of Ian McEwan, Elizabeth Strout, and Iris Murdoch, What Happens at Night is a “masterpiece” (Edmund White) poised on the cusp of reality, told by “an elegantly acute and mysteriously beguiling writer” (Richard Eder, The Boston Globe).
Story Locale: Northern Europe