Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Nightswimmer” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  430 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
In this brilliant literary mosaic centered around a love affair, acclaimed novelist Joseph Olshan explores the intense pressures and passions of gay life in New York City during the AIDS epidemic

Ten years ago, Will Kaplan and his lover went for a night swim in the Pacific Ocean—but only Will emerged. In the decade that followed, Will relocated to the other end of the conti
Paperback, 240 pages
Published December 1st 2000 by Berkley Trade (first published September 1st 1994)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Nightswimmer, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Nightswimmer

Maurice by E.M. ForsterBrokeback Mountain by Annie ProulxThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGiovanni's Room by James BaldwinTales of the City by Armistead Maupin
Best Gay Fiction
152nd out of 1,291 books — 1,599 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 719)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Ije the Devourer of Books
Apr 09, 2015 Ije the Devourer of Books rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and poignant writing telling a beautiful and poignant story about relationships:

How they shape and un-shape us,
how love can be difficult yet desired so desparately,
the desire for intimacy
And the fear and barriers that prevent the true intimacy that so many of us desire.

This is a LAMDA award winner and I am not surprised because the writing is excellent and the story is deeply emotional.

Ten years ago Will lost his lover Chad, in a swimming accident. He has had other relationships sin
May 19, 2012 George rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books. Of all time. Seriously. I've read it about 10 times.

Why would I spend that much time reading and re-reading a book? Because it speaks so loudly about love and loss in such a way as I can't describe. I always end up reading it in one sitting because I just get pulled into it headlong and can't let it go. The dialogue still holds up, as do the characters and the general theme of love and loss are always present in all of our lives.
Nov 04, 2014 Benjamin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-fiction
Ten years ago Will lost his lover Chad when he disappeared the night they swam together in the Pacific. Chad’s body was never found, and Will is unable to come to terms with his loss; did Chad drown, or did he just desert him? Now Will looks back on that tragedy as he also recounts the events of the year he meet Sean Paris. Will has recently separated form his lover of four years Greg when he meets Sean. They quickly fall for each other, but it soon becomes apparent that Sean also has a troubled ...more
Carlos Mock
Jul 29, 2014 Carlos Mock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nightswimmer by Joseph Olshan

Will Kaplan has been hurt in love. His boyfriend, Chad, and Will like to go night swimming off the coast of Santa Barbara. One night, they swim very far, a boat approaches them and only Will returns to the shore. However, Will thinks Chad is still alive and just wanted to get away from him. A feeling shared by two of Chad's roommates.

Sean Paris has been hurt by love also. A military family man, Sean fell for Randall Monroe, a man who used to work for Sean's stepfathe
Nov 11, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it
There are many synopsis about the story itself.

I wish to focus on the individuals that make up the life of Will Kaplan, and the men he knew.

A man who 'literally'and 'figuratively speaking lost his lover 10 years prior when they both went for their ritual night swim. The author captures the emptiness, the anguish,the guilt,anger and utter hopelessness of our main character as he struggles to move on from that fateful night.

He moves to the east coast in an effort to establish a realtionship tha
Jul 20, 2013 Kim rated it liked it
There are some wonderful parts of Nightswimmer, particularly the parts where Sean Paris discusses his relationship with Randall Monroe and the three stars I'm giving are primarily for those parts. The diary entries and letters he writes about Randall are just great. Unfortunately, Sean isn't the main character here. Will is not that interesting to read about and he seems like a stalker to me. His behavior when he housesits for Sean is really intrusive and bothered me a lot. I also didn't like th ...more
b. binaohan
Jul 03, 2015 b. binaohan rated it really liked it
This was one of the very very first gay books I ever read as a queer youth. I bought it 50 cents at a library discard sale.

And... I still have the book. The story is odd but lovely. Full of loss and longing with the kind of enigmatic ending that I find compelling.
Stephen Brody
Dec 16, 2014 Stephen Brody rated it it was ok
I do wish modern 'novelists' wouldn't so self-indulgently dress up rather dull biography as 'art'. One more for the rubbish bin while I'm clearing out.
Sep 21, 2015 Kristina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-for-fun, 2015
Recommended and gifted by a friend. I never would have picked this book up on my own. I found it beautifully written and haunting, with some hard truths about love and relationships. A pleasant gem.
Jun 20, 2015 Bill rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found the constant shifts in narration from first to second to third person jarring. I was reminded at times of Larry Kramer's "Faggots" from the late 70s. In it the characters were almost obsessed with having as much sex as possible. Twenty years later in Olshan's book the characters are still looking for partners but more interested in relationships. What I did enjoy was the author's descriptions of the Morning Party, and Splash. Some things in gay life will seemingly never change. Not that ...more
Homero Arceyut
Sep 28, 2011 Homero Arceyut rated it it was amazing
I remember loving this book, the sense of loss and longing. The uncertainty, the unanswered questions, the silent desperation was portrayed in a way that back when I read it, tore my very core!

I am going to reread this one for sure to see if I get the same devastating and gripping effect I remember!
This book was everything and it's opposite. it demonstrated the longing and the fear. from the longing of something, the longing for love and the fear of losing one self or something else. the book one of those book one find rare and it has a profound impact on one self.
Oct 19, 2011 KathyJ rated it liked it
Although I felt the characters could have been developed a bit more deftly, I will say that this book is better than many other titles where the main characters are gay or lesbian. So, if LGBT themes are of interest, this one is a cut above.
Jul 16, 2015 Shannon rated it liked it
Shelves: queer
I don't think I liked it as much as all these other 5-star-reviewers did, but there is nothing wrong with it. It was good. Just didn't really resonate with me, somehow. It'd make a good movie...
Jun 26, 2008 Tricia rated it liked it
A good summer read, but largely indulgent. A man struggles to come to terms with the lose of his lover years before. The writing style is comfortable and easy.
Jul 08, 2012 Meghan rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned-books
Never finished. Can't remember why. I might revisit and try again later.
Mar 24, 2008 Damon rated it it was amazing
brilliantly written, and hard not to fall in love with.
J. C.
Sep 04, 2008 J. C. rated it it was amazing
Loved, loved, loved.
Sep 02, 2008 Damian added it
crazy romantic
John marked it as to-read
Jan 26, 2016
Keith rated it it was amazing
Jan 25, 2016
Megan marked it as to-read
Jan 22, 2016
Sharon marked it as to-read
Jan 19, 2016
Ken Wozniak
Ken Wozniak rated it it was amazing
Jan 18, 2016
Richard Green
Richard Green rated it really liked it
Jan 14, 2016
John Williams
John Williams rated it really liked it
Jan 02, 2016
Carlos marked it as to-read
Jan 01, 2016
Erik Moscoso
Erik Moscoso marked it as to-read
Jan 01, 2016
Beiza added it
Dec 30, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 23 24 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Martin and John
  • The Beauty of Men
  • The Coming Storm
  • Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall
  • Like People in History
  • The Carnivorous Lamb
  • Metes and Bounds
  • The Abomination
  • When You Don't See Me
  • The Forgotten
  • Equal Affections
  • The Men from the Boys
  • Buddies
  • A Son Called Gabriel
  • War Boy
  • Playing in Traffic
  • Billy's Boy (Harlan's Story, #3)
  • Winter Birds
Joseph Olshan is an award-winning American novelist. His first novel, Clara's Heart, won the Times/Jonathan Cape Young Writers' Competition and went on to be made into a feature film starring Whoopi Goldberg. He is the author of eight novels, the most recent of which, The Conversion, will be published in 2008.

In addition to his novels, he has written extensively for newspapers and magazines, incl
More about Joseph Olshan...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“On the other hand, I had to remind myself that, unlike you, I'm the sort of person whose imagination gets overstimulated from very little. And sometimes I get confused between what I've nakedly perceived and what I've varnished upon that perception.” 1 likes
More quotes…