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The Visible World: A Novelby Mark Slouka
Synopses & Reviews
The unnamed narrator of The Visible World, the American-born son of Czech immigrants living in New York, grows up in an atmosphere haunted by fragments of a past he cannot understand. Nowhere is this more true than in regard to his mother, Ivana, a spontaneous, passionate woman moving ever closer to genuine despair. As an adult, the narrator travels to Prague, hoping to learn about a love affair between his then young mother and a member of the Czech Resistance named Tomas, an affair whose untimely end, he senses, lays behind Ivana's unhappiness. Ultimately unable to complete his knowledge of the past, he imagines the two lovers as participants in one of the more dramatic moments of the war: the actual assassination of a high-ranking Nazi official. And, in the almost unimaginably romantic story he tells, he creates the ending of their story and the beginning of his own.
From an author whose gifts recall Milan Kundera and W. G. Sebald, The Visible World is a literary page-turner and an immensely powerful novel about the vagaries of love and our need to make sense of life through the telling of stories.
"This is a penetrating, beautifully composed novel from a writer with a tangible sense of place and period." Booklist
"An eloquent testament to the power of storytelling." Kirkus Reviews
"The format bears the fruit of Slouka's cogent thesis: the value of storytelling is in its ability to fill the holes created by memory's inadequacy and the evasiveness of loved ones. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"His novel's power lives in the imaginative effort...to portray loss that is inherited....It's a moving book." Richard Ford
"Sentence for sentence, word for word, Mark Slouka is one of our very best writers...a book that will last." Colum McCann
"The sheer beauty of Mark Slouka's prose will draw comparisons to The English Patient." Gary Shteyngart
"Mark Slouka has written a staggeringly beautiful novel." Daniel Alarcón
"[Slouka's] style seamlessly merges a simple clarity with atmospheric lushness....[The Visible World] is this gifted writer's most ambitious book." Stuart Dybek
"The Visible World reveals what is invisible within us. It's a pure pleasure to turn its pages." Ha Jin
From an author whose gifts recall Milan Kundera and W.G. Sebald, The Visible World is a literary page-turner and an immensely powerful novel about the vagaries of love and the need to make sense of life through the telling of stories.
An immensely moving, powerfully romantic novel about the vagaries of love and the legacy of war, The Visible World is narrated by the American-born son of Czech immigrants. His New York childhood, lived in a boisterous community of the displaced, is suffused with stories: fragments of European history, Czech fairy tales, and family secrets gleaned from overheard conversations. Central in his young imagination is the heroic account of the seven Czech parachutists who, in 1942, assassinated a high-ranking Nazi. Yet one essential story has always evaded him: his mother's. He suspects she had a great wartime love, the loss of which bred a sadness that slowly engulfed her. As an adult, the narrator travels to Prague, hoping to piece together her hidden past.
About the Author
Mark Slouka is the child of Czech immigrants himself, and draws on his personal experience and the inevitable intrusions of the past on the present. He is the author of the novel God's Fool, named a Best Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle, the short story collection Lost Lake, a New York Times Notable Book in 1998, and the nonfiction work War of the Worlds. Three of his essays have been selected for inclusion in The Best American Essays, and his short story "The Woodcarvers Tale" won the National Magazine Award for fiction. He is a contributing editor at Harper's Magazine, and is currently the director for the writing program at the University of Chicago.
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