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Between the ages of eight and nine I prayed to the moon and thought it was God; then I turned ten and discovered the luminous flash of things. My father took me to the woods and to Corny's Pond almost every day. He showed me streaks of minnow and deer. He taught me to know birds by their songs. "Because," he said, "flash comes in more ways than sight."

Whenever we went out, my father asked Tucker to go with us. Tucker was my little brother, and he never really wanted to go. "Pay attention," my father told us, "and you'll see something you've never seen before." He was a tall man. His name was August Bell, and everything he said had weight.

-- From the novel


Evie is white and Janey Louise is black, and in the Deep South of the fifties, they should never have become friends. But absent fathers, and circles of love and dependence between their mothers, have created a powerful bond between the girls. Segregation, rape, riots, and family tragedy can not alter their affection, although the inevitable strains of racial injustice and intolerance routinely cast new shadows unto their relationship.

Elizabeth Cox tells a moving story about two girls who, though they grew up in the same house, reflect the alternate realities of white and black society. They are influenced by both the massive social changes sweeping the country during the Civil Rights years, and by our extraordinary human capacities for fear and hate and love. But in the end, it is the world they share under cover of darkness, through their candid nighttime conversations, that proves to be the strongest force of all.

Winner of the 1998 Lillian Smith Book Award for Fiction.


"At its core, it is a novel about the insidious nature of the great American dilemma...Cox is a graceful writer who confronts a difficult issue, and handles it with pathos and recognition."

—Boston Globe

"Cox...knows how friendships shift and change, grow cold and then rediscover warmth…An involving tale of two women's friendship in a world defined by race and illuminated by love."


"Affecting, resonant...Reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird."

—Library Journal

"Cox puts a human face on the struggle for equality in this thoughtful, well-written exploration of race relations in the South."

—Raleigh News and Observer

"Elizabeth Cox never writes of a character whom she cannot literally inhabit. That beautiful property of her mind is visible in Night Talk."

—Reynolds Price

"Wise and touching...about love in all shapes and shades and forms..."

—Jill McCorkle