Blue Nights

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Blue Nights
Blue Nights book cover.jpg
First edition
AuthorJoan Didion
CountryUnited States
Published2011 Alfred A. Knopf
Media typePrint (hardcover & paperback)

Blue Nights is a memoir written by Joan Didion first published in 2011. It is an account of the death of her daughter, Quintana, who died in 2005 at age 39. Didion also discusses her own feelings on parenthood and aging. The title refers to certain times in the "summer solstice [...] when the twilights turn long and blue."[1] Blue Nights is notable for its "nihilistic"[2] attitude towards grief as Didion offers little understanding or explanation of her daughter's death. Writing for The New York Review of Books, Cathleen Schine said,

"'We tell ourselves stories in order to live,' Didion famously wrote in The White Album. Blue Nights is about what happens when there are no more stories we can tell ourselves, no narrative to guide us and make sense out of the chaos, no order, no meaning, no conclusion to the tale."[3]

Blue Nights has been called a "companion piece"[4] to Didion's earlier The Year of Magical Thinking, which focuses on Didion's experiences following the death of her husband and hospitalization of her daughter.


Unlike some other memoirs, including Didion's previous work, Blue Nights does not follow a conventional narrative path. Didion's writing is repetitive and nonlinear, reflecting the difficult process of coping with her daughter's death.[5] Didion frequently diverges from the subject of her daughter, and often discusses her own life and feelings. Quintana's "fleeting presence"[4] in the book can be said to illustrate the difficulty of coping with a child's death. Other critics believe it demonstrates Didion's "lack of humility,"[5] a quality she has been criticized for as "a perennial insider" for her own contributions, or lack of, towards her daughter's decline.[4]


  1. ^ Didion, Joan. Blue Nights. p 3.
  2. ^ O'Rourke, Meghan. "Joan Didion’s Blue Nights isn’t about grieving for her daughter. It’s about a mother’s regrets." Slate. Accessed November 5, 2014.
  3. ^ Schine, Cathleen. "Elegy to the Void." The New York Review of Books. Accessed November 5, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Banville, John. Book review. The New York Times. Accessed November 5, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Cusk, Rachel. Book review. The Guardian. Accessed November 5, 2014.