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The Visible World [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Mark Slouka , Glen McCready

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Book Description

July 1 2008 Contemporary Fiction
Mark Slouka's novel begins with a child of Czech immigrants, now living in New York, who has been brought up on the folklore of his parents' homeland. As an adult he becomes aware that he has no knowledge of his parents during the Nazi occupation of Prague. He makes a journey back to Czechoslovakia, and it is only then that he discovers their part in the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the notorious 'butcher of Prague', and begins to understand his mother Ivana's unhappiness. Intertwined with this gripping history is a passionate love story, the tragic consequences of which transcend both decades and continents.

Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Naxos Audio Books; Unabridged edition (July 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9626349328
  • ISBN-13: 978-9626349328
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 12.8 x 5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 399 g

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Slouka's urgent second novel (following God's Fool) comes in three parts. The first relates the nameless narrator's growing up in postwar New York and Pennsylvania as the child of college journalism instructor Antonín and Ivana Sedlák, Czech émigrés whose marriage is slowly disintegrating. The reason, of which the young narrator is aware from an early age, is that Ivana loves another man, killed in Czechoslovakia during WWII. The despondent Ivana watches soap operas and chain-smokes until, at age 64 in 1984, she walks in front of the Allentown bus. The slimmer middle section chronicles the narrator quitting his job two years later, moving to Prague and poking into his parents' wartime past there. The final, longest section crackles with the novel's main tale. Having pieced together enough of his parents' history, the narrator "imagines" the rest. Crucially, it involves the actual assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler's ruthless local military governor, on May 27, 1942. As part of a daring plan, Czech patriot assassins are parachuted in by the RAF; the injured Heydrich later dies of blood poisoning. The Nazi bloodbath that follows includes the infamous liquidation of the village of Lidice. The suspense is well paced, and the action scenes are vividly recounted. Slouka's novel has a poignant verve. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

An unnamed American man from Queens, the son of Czech parents who emigrated after World War II, struggles to understand his mother's tragic past in this almost unbearably poignant work. In its first part, a series of reminiscences from his early years, he attempts to piece together her story and that of Eastern Europe's wartime generation--a tale involving secret executions, SS leader Reinhard Heydrich's assassination, and a family friend's hidden history as a Nazi interpreter. As he travels through Czechoslovakia as an adult, he meets villagers who reveal startlingly insightful truths about how people conceal their pasts in order to survive. Ultimately finding no concrete answers, he decides to re-create his mother's story in fiction, a section that imagines her love affair with a member of the Resistance during 1942. Undeniably romantic, this novel-within-a-novel responds to the desperate longing for truth so powerfully explored earlier, making plain our overriding need to make sense of the incomprehensible. This is a penetrating, beautifully composed novel from a writer with a tangible sense of place and period. Sarah Johnson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous read! May 17 2007
By Sam Spade - Published on
Wow. I heard this book discussed on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered, and decided it sounded worth the price.

I was not disappointed. As a fan of Milan Kundera, I resist reading books compared to his, but this time it is spot-on. Slouka's protagonist weaves an imagined love story between his mother and a WWII resistance fighter in with the story of his own youth spent with Czech expatriates and his trips to Prague searching for answers to the mystery of his mother's life. The result is a wonderful combination of magical realism and stunning, clear prose that had me hanging on every word. I think Mark Slouka is a marvelous writer, and I hope many more find this lovely novel. Here's the NPR link-

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Believable! Oct. 9 2009
By Najla Alowais - Published on
This is not a book that you can just read a few pages of in the car, a few more whilst waiting for your appointment. Not that it's terribly confusing, but rather, the narrator talks to you directly and you feel like you just need to sit down and listen. Some books are like that.

It was hard getting into it at first, but once you get past the first part, you're hooked.

The books is divided into three parts: the first is where the narrator talks about his childhood in the States. The second part is the narrator's journey to Parague to discover anything he can about his parents' past. The third and most moving part is his view on what really happened in his parents' youth, his attempt to fill the gaps of his family history.

WWII as the backdrop for the last chunk of this book, you feel like you are there with them. The style is inviting and when you finish the book you'll almost believe that it did happen.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars possessed by memoir, fiction and the legacy of central europe July 24 2007
By Helen Epstein - Published on
For those of you who, like me, are interested both in memoir and the history of Central Europe, Mark Slouka's The Visible World is provocative reading. The son of Czechs who settled in New York City after the Communist putsch of 1948, Slouka is a writer who is as possessed by his parents' past as some of the most history-obssessed offspring of Holocaust survivors like myself. His book is poised somewhere between memoir and autobiographical fiction. Apart from his parents, Slouka is fascinated by the heroes of the Czech resistance during world war. Although the movie Casablanca has Humphrey Bogart sending Ingrid Bergman off on a plane with a leader of the Czech resistance, many people have forgotten that Czechs were once regarded as a symbol of resistance against the Nazis. Slouka takes us on his personal quest into that territory.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exquisite July 19 2007
By Bee - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thought this book might give me some interesting background on Prague, but it far surpassed my expectations. It is a beautifully constructed triptych that interweaves fiction, memoir, and historical fact. The writing is beautiful, the characters memorable, the descriptions evocative.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine novel from one of America's great contemporary writers May 29 2007
By T. E. Leonard - Published on
I was totally intrigued by Slouka's previous novel, "God's Fool," and awaited with great anticipation the advent of this his latest novel. I was not disappointed. The work centers around the musing of a maturing American male who seeks to reconcile a mystery involving his parents wgich took place during the brutal Nazis occupation of Czechoslovokia. The answers he finds are far less evident than the book's title would suggest.

This is one of the few books I could truly enjoy reading twice!

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