Insomnia by Marina Benjamin
"A capacious, lyrical meditation on her elusive quest for sleep . . . A vivid portrayal of wakefulness that will strike a chord of recognition in many readers." —Kirkus Reviews
"An insomniac’s ideal sleep aid—and that’s a compliment. With her collage of ruminations about sleeplessness, [Benjamin] promises no real cure . . . What she offers instead is a rare kind of companionship . . . Her slim book is what the doctor ordered." —The Atlantic
"An exquisite meditation on time, the dark hours, and the complexities of longtime love, Insomnia is a poetic journey into the wide-awake, generous, exciting mind of Marina Benjamin. I couldn't put it down, and my own inner world is richer for it." —Dani Shapiro, author of Hourglass
"Every insomniac knows how sleeplessness warps and deforms reality. Marina Benjamin anatomizes its endless nights and red-eyed mornings, finding a sublime language for this strange state of lack. Her writing is often reminiscent of Anne Carson: beautiful, jagged, and precise." —Olivia Laing, author of The Lonely City
"Marina Benjamin is the Scheherazade of sleeplessness, spinning tale upon tale, insight upon insight, in frayed and astonishing and finally ecstatic loops." —Francis Spufford, author of Golden Hill
Insomnia is on the rise. Villainous and unforgiving, it’s the enemy of energy and focus, the thief of our repose. But can insomnia be an ally, too, a validator of the present moment, of edginess and creativity? Marina Benjamin takes on her personal experience of the condition—her struggles with it, her insomniac highs, and her dawning awareness that states of sleeplessness grant us valuable insights into the workings of our unconscious minds. Although insomnia is rarely entirely welcome, Benjamin treats it less as an affliction than as an encounter that she engages with and plumbs. She adds new dimensions to both our understanding of sleep (and going without it) and of night, and how we perceive darkness.
Along the way, Insomnia trips through illuminating material from literature, art, philosophy, psychology, pop culture, and more. Benjamin pays particular attention to the relationship between women and sleep—Penelope up all night, unraveling her day’s weaving for Odysseus; the Pre-Raphaelite artists’ depictions of deeply sleeping women; and the worries that keep contemporary females awake. Insomnia is an intense, lyrical, witty, and humane exploration of a state we too often consider only superficially. “This is the song of insomnia, and I shall sing it,” Marina Benjamin declares.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Marina Benjamin is the author of three previous memoirs, Rocket Dreams, short-listed for the Eugene Emme Award, Last Days in Babylon, long-listed for the Wingate Prize, and The Middlepause, finalist for the Arts Foundation's Creative Nonfiction Award. She has also worked as a journalist, her pieces appearing in The Guardian, the Financial Times, The Independent, and other British newspapers, and she has served as arts editor at the New Statesman and deputy arts editor at the Evening Standard. She is currently a senior editor at the digital magazine Aeon.