Infrared by Nancy Huston | Paperback | Barnes & Noble


by Nancy Huston

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Award-winning author Nancy Huston follows her bestselling novel, Fault Lines, winner of the Prix Femina, with an intensely provocative story about a passionate yet emotionally-wounded woman’s sexual explorations.

After a troubled childhood and two failed marriages, Rena Greenblatt has achieved success as a photographer. She specializes in infrared


Award-winning author Nancy Huston follows her bestselling novel, Fault Lines, winner of the Prix Femina, with an intensely provocative story about a passionate yet emotionally-wounded woman’s sexual explorations.

After a troubled childhood and two failed marriages, Rena Greenblatt has achieved success as a photographer. She specializes in infrared techniques that expose her pictures’ otherwise hidden landscapes and capture the raw essence of deeply private moments in the lives of her subjects.

Away from her lover, and stuck in Florence, Italy, with her infuriating stepmother and her aging, unwell father, Rena confronts not only the masterpieces of the Renaissance but the banal inconveniences of a family holiday. At the same time, she finds herself traveling into dark and passionate memories that will lead to disturbing revelations.

Infrared is both an explicitly bold story of how sexuality is influenced by childhood, family, and culture, and a portrait of a woman coming to terms with the end of her father’s life. With exceptional flair and intelligence, Huston fearlessly investigates the links between family intimacies and our collective lives, between destruction and creation.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
Huston, who translates her own novels from the French, is a master of emotional shifts and indirection; what looks like meandering in Infrared is a narrative chess game, every move worth watching.
—Regina Marler
Publishers Weekly
Huston’s exceptional new novel (after the Prix Femina Award–winning Fault Lines) chronicles a weeklong Italian trip taken by photographer Rena Greenblatt to celebrate her father’s 70th birthday. Trouble brews early when two teenagers are electrocuted near Rena’s home in Paris, sparking riots, and Rena’s lover/colleague urges her to come back to document the chaos. As Rena gets lost in an internal conversation with her imaginary sister, Huston expertly navigates past and present, taking us into vivid recollections of Rena’s absent lawyer mother, who killed herself; the secret alliances Rena shared with her scientist father, a one-time radical who didn’t live up to his potential; her complicated relationship with her older brother; her somewhat dim stepmother, Ingrid; her many affairs; and how all of it made her who she is. Huston makes her protagonist likable despite her irksome quirks: she’s short with her guileless stepmother, indignant and quick to start arguments with anyone who disagrees with her; in short, Rena feels truly real, which makes the novel’s abrupt ending all the more disappointing. Agent: Text Publishing Co., Melbourne, Australia. (July)
From the Publisher

—A Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of the Year

"Huston shows her mastery of complicated structure, wide culural knowledge, and brilliant, assured portraiture."—The Globe and Mail

“There is something eminently subversive in Nancy Huston’s latest novel. A forty-five-year-old woman dares to talk about her sexuality, her immense desire for men. But even more, Infrared is a staggering expression of the power of art as salvation.”—Voir (Canada)

"Compelling . . . A finely written examination of sexual politics and the importance of emotional triage."—Quill & Quire

“Poetic . . . A ruminative and sensual read.”—Zoe Whittall, National Post (Canada)

“An intense and sensual novel”—France Soir

“Nancy Huston is in top form writing about individual and collective memories, and she knows better than most how to dramatize family destinies.”—Le Monde des Livres

"Infrared, written in lyrical slivers and voluptuous prose is an engaging work."—Canberra Times (Australia)

Library Journal
Huston may have invented a new genre with her 11th novel, self-translated from the French. In this erotic travelog of sorts, definitely NSFW (read: not safe for work), narrator Rena is, like the author, a Canadian-born Francophile. She uses a trip to Italy with her aging father and naive stepmother as an opportunity to reflect on her many relationships, her career as a photographer, art history, and, above all else, sex. The story is told in the third person but with a strange device: Rena constantly tells stories in the first person to her imaginary friend, Subra. It is in these stories that the intimate details of her life are revealed, juxtaposed with the banal day-to-day existence of a tourist. The reading experience is a bit like a poetic puzzle, through which the reader slowly discovers the origins of Rena's sexuality and creative ideas. VERDICT A distinctive journey recommended for those who enjoy erotic stories with an intellectual core. Also recommended for travelog and memoir enthusiasts. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/12.]—Kate Gray, Pratt Inst., New York
Kirkus Reviews
A woman explores complex family relationships and discovers truths about herself in this sensual, intricately woven offering from award-winning Huston (Fault Lines, 2008, etc.). As freelance photographer Rena Greenblatt joins her aging father and abrasive stepmother in Italy for a dreaded week of vacation, the experience evolves into a period of self-reflection about her childhood, relationships, sensuality and self. Rena, a sexually uninhibited free spirit in her mid-40s, has had numerous lovers and husbands. Her chosen profession involves the use of infrared photography that allows her to "see" into the souls of her subjects during their most intimate moments. She is oddly reluctant to use her camera to document her trip and perhaps expose too many truths, but as she spends more time with her father and stepmother, slowly she peels away the complicated layers that encompass the intricate familial relationships that exist. Rena's imaginary sister and voice in her head, Subra--the backward spelling of deceased photographer Diane Arbus--poses probing questions that prompt revelations about Rena's background and her family: a once jealous and abusive older brother whom Rena loves, a mother who loved her but was always busy with her disadvantaged clients, and a philandering father, a doctoral candidate who once patterned himself after activist Timothy Leary and dropped acid with his daughter. As the week advances, Rena receives increasingly frantic phone calls from her French-born Algerian lover, who implores her to return to their home in France to document the race riots that are consuming the suburbs of Paris. But Rena, unwilling to affect an early departure, ignores his pleas as she faces the pivotal events of her past and reconciles these with the emotional reality of the present. Huston provides readers with more than a mere snapshot; her raw and sensual writing delivers the complete picture.

Product Details

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.04(h) x 0.72(d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Huston is the author of twelve novels, including Plainsong, which won the Governor General's Award for Fiction in French; Slow Emergencies, winner of the Prix L' and the Prix Louis-Hémon; The Mark of An Angel, awarded the Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle; and Fault Lines, winner of the Prix Femina and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year.

Visit her website at

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