A Perfect Night to Go to China

A Perfect Night to Go to China

A Novel

Book - 2005
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Winner of the 2005 Governor General's Award for Fiction This astonishing novel - unlike anything Gilmour has ever written before - begins with every parent's worst nightmare: the disappearance of a child. A father makes a casual error of judgement one evening and leaves his six-year-old son alone for fifteen minutes. When he returns the child is gone and three lives are changed forever. Has the boy been kidnapped? Spirited out of the country? Is he dead? The story that unfolds is told by the novel's narrator, a television host named Roman, who searches for his son through the city and through the underworld of dreams and tries to bring him back. Pursued by an unshakeable conviction that his son is speaking directly to him, Roman begins to enter a haunting relationship with the missing child and his own conscience. In the meantime, his behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and he is rejected by his grieving and angry wife, eventually fired from his job, and shadowed by a persistent policeman who thinks Roman is hiding the child. Written in the clear, elegant prose Gilmour is known for, A Perfect Night to Go to China is a completely absorbing and original work of fiction. It sets up a harrowing premise and doesn't let up until the last surprising page.

Publisher: Toronto : Thomas Allen Publishers, 2005.
ISBN: 9780887621673
Characteristics: 179 p. ;,21 cm.


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Jan 08, 2020

An unfortunate comment re the ending. Spoiler alert? I haven't read the book yet so now I have this information that I would rather not have! Too bad I glanced at these comments.

Aug 12, 2019

I see comments about not liking the ending, but I really enjoyed the way the story ended. I felt like the author did a decent job of taking us through the disjointed world or grief, guilt, and self hatred after a tragedy and I feel like the main character acted in a very honest, raw and emotional way.

VaughanPLNaomi Oct 31, 2018

This is a beautiful short novel. Gilmour intersperses the real day-to-day Toronto life with poetic dream sequences that take place on an island of the dead. Not much happens aside from a man searching for his son who has gone missing due to the man's negligence one night. However, Gilmour keeps the narrative close on the character and the way that the tragedy wares on his being every passing moment that his son is gone. The way that Roman, the protagonist, loses patience and begins to see his world differently is what kept me reading. The real world and Roman's dream world converge at the end of the book. This was a delight from start to finish!

Aug 21, 2015

David Gilmour, you need help! Either you've yet to regain your personal equilibrium after having endured an emotionally abusive relationship or you're under the misapprehension that readers are apt to identify with a protagonist who is preoccupied with being a victim. Have you actually experienced a marriage gone so badly wrong as that of your protagonist, Roman? His wife's degree of venom is almost beyond belief -- passages such as "I must have been pretty arrogant back then .. when I met you .. because I believed that no one could wreck my life" or "Why don't you kill yourself?" It's interesting that you only identify the wife as "M".
And how could you then dedicate this diatribe to your own wife??
Faced with a life crisis, the unexplained disappearance of his six year old son, Roman retreats into a dream world of fantasy, wandering the streets, his behavior becoming increasingly bizarre; no wonder the police suspect him of having orchestrated his child's disappearance. Where is his rage, his grief, his desperation at the lack of progress in the investigation?
I don't buy it, Mr. Gilmour.
The GG Award people blew it.

Nov 04, 2013

This is not a story about going to China, but about a man with a successful career in a downward spiral toward an abyss, all due to one simple mistake he made one evening. Plenty of dreams and monologues here. The ending may irritate some readers. Overall it is pretty engaging reading.

AD_Library Aug 06, 2009

Roman chooses to visit the bar that night. He doesn't lock his door. So when he returns and Simon (his young son) is missing, it seems as though he has locked him self into his own fate.
Tortured by his loss, Roman sinks deeply into the dark side, his dreams and his waking moments blending together until we can no longer see anything but pain and grief.
Stiring prose from a talented writer, this is a book about a feeling more than a story; a feeling that will stay with you for a long time.
Four stars (out of five).

Feb 08, 2006

When a man leaves his young son alone in their apartment to go have a drink at a bar down the road, he returns to find his son gone. The first person narrative creates a sense of reflection by the father that leads him to believe a series of dreams he has and sends him searching in the most unlikely places for his missing son. Although I did not like the way story ended, the descriptive language by the author drew me in, making it a compulsive read.

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