I first read Vedrana Rudan in an interview in the international literary journal CONTEXT, which (not coincedentally) is put out by the same people who run Dalkey Archive Press, Rudan's publisher. Still, I couldn't blame Dalkey Archive for trying to promote her work, judging by the total lack of acclaim Night has received. This is not due to any lack of talent on her part. The quick wit, remarkable frankness, bravado, and pitch-black humor that were readily apparent in her hilarious CONTEXT interview (available online) are abundant in Night. Stylistically it bears likenesses to Louis-Ferdinand Celine's later novels, especially Conversations with Professor Y. It's a monologue on the page, a discursive, rambling rant that encompasses genocide, women's rights (pro and con), aging, and even 9/11 but always remains anchored in one person's life experience.
Nothing actually happens. At no point does it all add up, which makes this a much more "difficult" read than your average American bestseller. The reader is completely submerged in Tonka's consciousness; no easy separations between author and narrator and reader are allowed. We're strapped down and forced to endure it all. Which is not torture, thanks in part to the excellent translation.
Be aware that you will be repeatedly frustrated by the narrator's refusal to explain or stick to the point. She'll yell at you, accuse you of everything under the sun, contradict herself, and in the end you're left with a collection of shards of ideas, fleeting images and no clear idea of how to fit them all together. Does that sound fun to you? If so, get this book. It isn't The Vagina Monologues nor (barring a pole shift in culture) will it be in Oprah's Book Club any time soon. It is not chick-lit. It is not "empowering."
What it is is an intriguing mess. Maybe more, certainly no less.