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The Facade: M.N.O.P.Q. [Hardcover]

Libuse Monikova

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Book Description

Oct. 15 1991
Set in Czechoslovakia before the collapse of communism, the story revolves around three craftsmen. When they are commissioned to paint a fresco in Kyoto, they set off, only to lose their way in Siberia where they embark on a series of picaresque and surreal adventures.

Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Knopf (Oct. 15 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394572505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394572505
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The Soviet occupation of 1968 is never far from the thougths of Orten, Maltzahn, Patera and Podol, cynical Prague artists who in the late '70s are restoring the damaged facade of a famous Bohemian castle--a hopeless project, as the restoration, attacked by industrial pollution, immediately begins to deteriorate. As they irreverently reinterpret the fading frescoes, the trio engages in a wide-ranging discussion about the fate of Czechoslovakia and their own domestic affairs, punctuating all with a scathing gallows humor. Unfortunately, the uniformity of Monikova's portrayal of the artists detracts from their witty repartee. Only with the introduction of two quirky castle archivists, Qvietone, an earnest entomologist, and Nordanc, a gay historian, does the novel take off. When Orten is asked to create a bas-relief wall in Japan, Maltzahn, Podol, Qvietone and Nordanc invite themselves along. On the cross-continental journey, the group finds itself stranded in Siberia, an opportunity the author exploits to the fullest, contrasting the caustic, civilized Czech spirit with the wilder "great Russian soul." In a series of broadly drawn, irresistibly funny incidents, the gang is hijacked by a lonely scientist to Akademgorodok, adopted by a band of Evenk herdsmen and flees across the barren taiga on a snowmobile. One of the most likable characters is a witch who is busily turning Soviet officials into reindeer. Monikova's off-beat sense of humor makes the reader glad to be along for the ride. A first novel, this has been translated from the German.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The second major work of fiction by a Czech-born Germanist currently living in Berlin, this inventive, humorous, and encyclopedic meditation on Czech and Russian culture and politics was first published in German, a sad irony. Clearly indebted to the fantastic strain in Czech literature, The Facade tells the story of several artists and archivists working on the restoration of the great castle at Friedland and their misadventures in Czechoslovakia and in the Soviet Union when trapped there one winter on their way to Japan. The narrative's raucous energy and wide-ranging erudition compensate for the frustratingly shallow characterizations of the major characters, the M., N., O., P., and Q. of the subtitle. A major and often enjoyable work that rejuvenates the literary traditions of central Europe.
- Michael T. O'Pecko, Towson State Univ., Md.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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