Night Of Amber ($23.95; Sept. 30; 336 pp.; 1-56792-090-X). The sequel to Germain’s prizewinning The Book of Nights (English translation 1993)—a magical-realist chronicle that surveyed the fortunes of the ineffably grotesque Peniel family throughout the postwar period’s defining political events and consequent social changes. This volume (first published in 1989) carries their story through the war in Algeria and the 1968 Paris student riots, while focusing on the life, crimes, and (ironic) redemption of misfit Charles-Victor, a sexual predator, sadist, and murderer whose outrageous excesses recall the exploits of Louis-Ferdinand CÇline’s unforgettable misanthropes and monsters. Germain pitches her tale at a delirious expressionistic height that is, almost miraculously, sustained for more than 300 pages. Night of Amber and its equally brilliant predecessor together comprise one of the most remarkably inventive French fictions since the heyday of Mauriac, Sartre, and Camus.