The Night Language (Rare Bird Books)
The Night Language tells the story of a young man, Prince Alamayou of Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia), who is taken from his home and the Abyssinian war to the court of Queen Victoria—a world he knows nothing about.
With him is Philip Layard, a young apprentice to one of the doctors on the battlefield in Abyssinia, who becomes Alamayou's guardian, only friend, and eventually, the love of his life. When Parliament accuses Alamayou of murder, the young prince is sentenced to return to Abyssinia, where he will be executed.
His only hope comes from the very thing that cannot be uttered: the unexpected and forbidden love between Alamayou and Philip.
Inspired by true events, The Night Language is a unique novel of love, loss, and the consequences of repressive societies.
Praise for The Night Language
"The Night Language is a rare achievement: lush language and classic storytelling with a contemporary feel that renders its history palpable. It is also a love letter to the artist, the outcast, the othered. Keep it by your bedside, read it in the early hours—it will not fail to inspire you."
—Garrard Conley, author of Boy Erased
"Not since Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient have I read a novel in which a character—the story and skinsong of Alamayou—has haunted language, history, and heart so intensely. David Rocklin's novel The Night Language is a book of longing. Longing for history to unravel and retell itself around those whose buried voices and bodies truly mattered, longing for time to reverse and make decolonization possible, power giving way to intimacy, longing for art to bring a body back home, longing for language to unmoor itself and bring us back to life. If you read one novel this year, let it be The Night Language. It is still possible for a reader’s heart to be broken back open."
—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan, The Small Backs of Children, and The Chronology of Water
"The Night Language is a postcard sent from a lost time and place but postmarked today. As he surveys the crisscross borders of gender and race in a troubled past, David Rocklin draws a line around the heart of our troubled present: the price of war, the privilege of wealth, the poison of xenophobia. Also: the wordless power of love. The shadows of two black men, an African prince and a British apprentice, dance together out of a forgotten history right into the here and now."
—Martin Pousson, author of Black Sheep Boy
David Rocklin is the author of The Luminist and the founder/curator of Roar Shack, a monthly reading series in Los Angeles. He was born and raised in Chicago and now lives in LA with his wife, daughters, and a 150 lb Great Dane who seriously needs to stay on his own bed. He’s currently at work on his next novel, The Electric Love Song of Fleischl Berger.