Synopses & Reviews
The nineteenth-century founding of "free settlements" in the Americas serves as a starting point for the new novel by popular Czech author Patrik Ouředník. Simultaneously satiric and philosophical, , opens with an Italian anarchist's missive to his noble former mistress, an impassioned rejection of all of Europe's latest and greatest advancements, from the Enlightenment to social reform to communist revolution. We then leap back in time half a century to the alternately somber and hilarious shipboard diary of a common Italian everyman sailing to Brazil with a motley, multinational band of idealists, to build a new society. A pitiless portrait of the often unbridgeable gap between theory and practice, is another uproarious and unsettling attack on convention by one of literature's great provocateurs.
"A treasure of historical and imaginative detail converge in this fascinating work about a group of disenchanted Europeans who travel to Brazil in the mid-19th century to start a utopian society. The aged founder of the experimental settlement begins the narrative in 1902 as a letter to his first love, Julia, and works his way backward: Italian and illegitimate by birth, he was early on fired up by Enlightenment ideals and so disgusted by conventions and prejudices of the day that he proposed the abolition of marriage and a kind of gleeful disorganization of society. Subsequently, in diary entries that grow gradually more discombobulated over the months from January to October 1855, another writer one of the original utopia seekers exposes via simple, plainspoken writings his bamboozlement by the fiery exhortations of the ship's anarchists and communists, and, eventually, reveals how the exalted experiment descends into petty bickering, disputes, grandstanding, fights over women, and general debauchery practical anarchy, in short. Ourednik (Case Closed) fashions a cleverly satirical commentary on the bare-knuckled realities of what happens when grand (and often naÃ¯ve) ideas are put into practice. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWxyz LLC)
A Voltairean attack on the political idealism that gave birth to the modern world.
We have been presented with a small gem of humor that confirms the originality of this Czech novelist.Deliciously Voltairean.Patrik Ouředník handles satire with the mastery of a Chinese executioner carving up his victim: behold the enormity of ideological idiocy.
About the Author
Patrik Ouředník was born in Prague, but immigrated to France in 1984 where he still lives. He is the author of twlve books, including fiction, essays, and poems. He is also the Czech translator of novels, short stories, and plays from such writers as François Rabelais, Alfred Jarry, Raymond Queneau, Samuel Beckett, and Boris Vian. He has received a number of literary awards for his writing, including the Czech Literary Fund Award.Alex Zucker's translation of Jáchym Topol's City Sister Silver (2000) was selected for inclusion in the 2006 guide 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. He lives in Brooklyn.