Friday, 18 January 2008


When I was a child I read, I read as a hungry man consumes bread. My parents have photos of me asleep, the book open in my hand, the reading light still on. I read without judgement, without caring for what others thought – good, bad, indifferent I read every book in our town's small library. Somewhere in my teens I stopped. I said I did not have time to lose myself any more, but in truth I no longer had the child's ability to let go and sink into that other world. It was only in Czecho that I really began to read again.

I started reading the latest book in the airport, then on the plane, on the train when watching my fellow travellers became boring and now it is done. Tomorrow I will start another book. But this one I recommend to you – it is The Visible World by Mark Slouka. The book is very suited to Czechophiles. It's about a boy growing up in America to Czech parents, and his slow and painful journey in to their past, which takes him to Prague, the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich and the dark stains that surround it. But the story is really about love and loss of love, about how the child looks for the parent, of the truth and compromises we make to survive. It is beautifully written, full of poetry.

1 comment:

Philip Wilkinson said...

I'll put this one on my list of books to read. People might like to know that W G Sebald's AUSTERLITZ is another beautifully written novel with a strong Czech connection. The main character, the Austerlitz of the title, was born in Prague but transported to Britain as a small child during World War II, after which his adoptive parents concealed his name and background from him. A major theme in the novel is his rediscovery of his home city and of his real identity.


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