Talking in the Night

March VCWC Special Speaker – acclaimed Los Angeles novelist, David Rocklin

by Judith Mathison

David Rocklin, an acclaimed Los Angeles novelist, will be the VCWC featured speaker at our March 13th monthly meeting. He is the author of The Luminist, and, most recently, The Night Language. Rocklin is currently at work on his next novel, The Electric Love Song of Fleischl Berger. David moved to the west coast from his native Chicago in 1991, and by profession, is an attorney and mediator, specializing in employment and business litigation. He lives with his wife, daughters, and a one hundred and fifty-pound Great Dane!

David’s work combines a love of language, history, and the complex social dynamics of power, race, and culture. His new novel, released in November 2017, tells the story of a young man, Prince Alamayou of Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia), who is taken from his home and the Abyssinian war to the court of Queen Victoria – a world he knows nothing about.

Rocklin is also the founder and host of Roar Shack, a reading series held monthly in Echo Park, CA. The series gives both emerging and established writers the opportunity to present their work.

When asked what the theme of his presentation would be, David stated: “My novels are all literary fiction and set in a time now past. As such, setting is really critical, and something I focus very strongly on depicting. I’d love to give a brief talk about how to make the setting of one’s writing a character unto itself. I have a pretty fun exercise that illustrates the Anne Enright maxim: ‘All description is an opinion of the world’.”

The VCWC extends a warm welcome to David Rocklin, an important contemporary artist. More information can be found at his website:

Following are reviews of The Night Language.

As he surveys the crisscross borders of gender and race in a troubled past, David Rocklin draws a line around the heart of our troubled present: the price of war, the privilege of wealth, the poison of xenophobia. Also: the wordless power of love. The shadows of two black men, an African prince and a British apprentice, dance together out of a forgotten history right into the here and now.” —Martin Pousson, Author of Black Sheep Boy

Not since Michael Ondaatjes The English Patient have I read a novel in which a characterthe story and skinsong of Alamayouhas haunted language, history, and heart so intensely.

David Rocklin’s novel The Night Language is a book of longing. Longing for history to unravel and retell itself around those whose buried voices and bodies truly mattered, longing for time to reverse and make decolonization possible, power giving way to intimacy, longing for art to bring a body back home, longing for language to unmoor itself and bring us back to life. If you read one novel this year, let it be The Night Language. It is still possible for a reader’s heart to be broken back open.”  Lidia Yuknavitch, Author of The Book of Joan, The Small Backs of Children, and The Chronology of Water.

“A heart-scorching lyrical novel about forbidden love, unbearable loss, the never-ending path of history and the price of repression. If you ever felt like “the other” (and who has not?), this brilliant book will heal, inspire and, yes, haunt you to see the world differently.” —Caroline LeavittNew York Times Bestselling author of Pictures of You and Cruel Beautiful World

The Night Language is a rare achievement: lush language and classic storytelling with a contemporary feel that renders its history palpable. It is also a love letter to the artist, the outcast, the othered. Keep it by your bedside, read it in the early hours – it will not fail to inspire you.    —Garrard Conley

We meet on the second Tuesday of every month
except December at 7:00 p.m.
Pleasant Valley Community Center
Senior Center Room
 1605 Burnley Street
Camarillo, CA