Bright Ray of Darkness
Ethan Hawke

Book cover image

Narrated By: Ethan Hawke

Duration: 7 hours and 38 minutes

What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

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'Ethan Hawke is a true writer and his duality as an artist is skilfully reflected in A Bright Ray of Darkness. Hawke circles, descends, and crawls into his characters skin. Grimy shadows pass over the footlights, into the bowels of the theatre, where a struggling actor, perhaps mirroring the writer, seeks the vine of redemption, and claws his way into becoming. Bright Ray is a riveting work.' PATTI SMITH

The first novel in nearly twenty years from the acclaimed actor/writer/director, A BRIGHT RAY OF DARKNESS is a book about art and love, fame and heartbreak -- a blistering story of a young man making his Broadway debut just as his marriage implodes.

A bracing meditation on fame and celebrity, and the redemptive, healing power of art; a portrait of the ravages of disappointment and divorce; a poignant consideration of the rites of fatherhood and manhood; a novel soaked in rage and sex, longing and despair; and a passionate love letter to the world of theatre, A Bright Ray of Darkness showcases Ethan Hawke's gifts as a novelist as never before.

Hawke's narrator is a young man in torment, disgusted with himself after the collapse of his marriage, still half-hoping for a reconciliation that would allow him to forgive himself and move on as he clumsily, and sometimes hilariously, tries to manage the wreckage of his personal life with whisky and sex. What saves him is the theatre: in particular, the challenge of performing Shakespeare in his Broadway debut under the leadership of a brilliant director. Searing, raw, and utterly transfixing, A Bright Ray of Darkness is a novel about shame and beauty and faith, and the moral power of art.

© Ethan Hawke 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021

Genre

Modern and contemporary fiction, Narrative theme: Love and relationships

Listen to a sample

Ethan Hawke, whose acting career has combined celebrity wattage with indie integrity, brings hard-won experience to his latest literary endeavour ... [A] wild ride of a book ... Written with real fire & originality. Not many novels combine scenes of lying semi-conscious by a motel toilet with thoughts on the perfection of the iambic pentameter.

Metro

Ethan Hawke is a true writer and his duality as an artist is skilfully reflected in A Bright Ray of Darkness. Hawke circles, descends, and crawls into his characters skin. Grimy shadows pass over the footlights, into the bowels of the theatre, where a struggling actor, perhaps mirroring the writer, seeks the vine of redemption, and claws his way into becoming. Bright Ray is a riveting work.

Patti Smith

An emotional ode to theatre as medicine for heartbreak, and an interesting meditation on fame.

Radio Times

William is the star of this vivid drama from Ethan Hawke ... this is ultimately a book about the transcendent value of great art ... it communicates a real power.

Sunday Times

Film star William Harding is fed up with having his personal life examined in public. The protagonist of this novel, the first in five years from Hawke (best known for his acting role in Richard Linklater's Before trilogy), is also disgusted at the ways in which he has allowed his marriage to collapse around him. His debut Broadway role offers him a chance at redemption and turns this bracing book into a considered meditation on the evil of celebrity and the demanding yet restorative power of theatre.