'Every insomniac knows how sleeplessness warps and deforms reality. Marina Benjamin anatomises 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
'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
‘A sublime view of the treasures and torments to be found in wakefulness. Entertaining and existential, the brightest star in this erudite, nocturnal reverie in search of lost sleep, is the beauty of the writing itself.’
Deborah Levy, author of Hot Milk
‘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
‘Benjamin writes beautifully. This is a graceful rumination on the ‘wicked kind of trespass’ that is insomnia, a work cogent and allusive as a lucid dream, a palimpsest of insights to dip into, day or night.’
Anna Funder author of Stasiland and All That I Am
‘Clever, wise and witty — and ever so slightly cosmic too. This is for us who know what it is to be forlorn at 3am ...’
‘A wonderful, sometimes painful compendium of thoughts about sleeplessness and its meanings. I recognised its nocturnal terrain.’
‘Will nurture you at any wakeful hour.'
‘A beautiful book to keep you awake.’
‘A few years ago, I signed up for a sleep therapy group that was strikingly similar to the one Benjamin goes through for her own insomnia in her aptly named book Insomnia. What was most unsettling about this group was our sleep therapist's insistence that our individual struggles with sleep were neither as exceptional nor as debilitating as we insisted they were. With seemingly no way out of our sleepless nights, we had chosen to burnish them and, as Benjamin quotes from a shrink, we fell “in love with our neuroses”. What Benjamin accomplishes with her book is to capture the contradiction of not wanting to be alone and wanting to be the only one that so many insomniacs experience. Writing not just about her own experience, but of fellow insomniacs throughout history, she seems to argue that insomnia gifts as much as it robs, and that insomniacs are, in the end, as protective of their sleeplessness as the snippets of rest they manage to steal. Having finished her book, I am happier to belong to this particular clan. To lie awake in solidarity.’
Lillian Li, author of Number One Chinese Restaurant
‘Anyone who has suffered through the wide-eyed hell of a sleepless night will find some-thing painfully recognisable in Marina Benjamin’s searingly honest memoir about her years battling for rest … Insomnia has a dreamlike quality, structured as a series of fragmented and sometimes unrelated thoughts and memories … [There are] moments of stunning poetry, suddenly interrupted by passages of fevered introspection … At its heart this is a book about desire, and the constant dynamic tussle between hunger and satiation. What does it mean to exist on the threshold of darkness and light?’
Lucy Hunter Johnston, Evening Standard
‘This is a really wonderful book — good for night owls too, even if you are not an insomniac. And just for those who are interested in the imagination and creativity.’
‘Marina Benjamin’s slim meditation on sleeplessness makes for interesting bedtime reading … Art, philosophy and science jostle together, the fragments flowing in and out of each other. Things that seem unrelated on the surface become entwined with one another.’
‘A genre of memoir currently in vogue involves entwining the author’s personal story with the cultural history of a given phenomenon, so that each may illuminate the other. Mellow introspection and anecdotal whimsy are spliced with tidbits of cultural criticism … Benjamin’s is a refreshingly grounded and sanguine voice.’
Houman Barekat, The Spectator
‘As well as a very personal account, it is also a very idiosyncratic cultural history of sleeplessness, a poetic meditation on what we lose and what we gain from these unwilled encounters with brute night. The fragmented structure fits well with the subject, and Benjamin is excellent at describing the jagged loops and whirrs of a mind failing to find rest.’
Ella Walker, The Herald