The Visible World is an evocative, powerfully romantic novel about a son's attempt to understand his mother's past, a search that leads him to a tragic love affair and the heroic story of the assassination of a high-ranking Nazi by the Czech resistance.
The 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. At the heart of that past is his mother, Ivana, a spontaneous, passionate woman drifting ever closer to 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 resistance named Tomas, an affair whose untimely end, he senses, lay 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 (and true) moments of the war, and through the deeply romantic story he tells, creates not only the ending of their story but the beginning of his own.
The Visible World (2007)
“An elegy and a romance, a mystery and a meditation, The Visible World arrives at the rawest truths of love, war, and the brutal power of memory... A staggeringly beautiful novel.”
—Daniel Alarcon, author of At Night We Walk in Circles
“The sheer beauty of Mark Slouka's prose will draw comparisons to The English Patient.”
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
"Sentence for sentence, word for word, Mark Slouka is one of our very best writers: he calls to mind Berger, Sebald, Erdrich, Ondaatje."
― Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin
“Thoughtful and evocative... Slouka writes perceptively about the ambiguities of human behavior - both within the ordinary circumstances of marriage and in the extreme conditions of war.”
—Eva Hoffman, New York Times Book Review
“[Slouka] probes into the many faces of death and into the dark well of love to deliver a quiet yet heart-stopping lyrical tale that, once begun, is too gripping to put down.”
“A triumph of storytelling, haunted by a great love and lit by the still smoldering fires of midcentury central Europe. When has an elegy ever been so passionate, and a historical moment so fully imagined?”
—Patricia Hampl, author of The Florist's Daughter
“A beautifully written and thrilling poem about love... a book you can't put down.”
—Richard Bausch, author of Rebel Powers
“Lush, luminous fiction."
—O, The Oprah Magazine
"Rich with intelligence and poetic detail, The Visible World demonstrates why Mark Slouka is one of our finest contemporary novelists. He makes us think; he makes us feel; and because what he does is not just storytelling but art, we are elevated in the reading of his work."
― Elizabeth Berg, author of The Story of Arthur Truluv
"A vibrantly told love story."
—Washington Post Book World
"Exquisitely written... Slouka's reapturous intensity more than justifies comparisons with Ondaatje and Berger."
― Independent (U.K.)
"At once economical and lush, meditative and suspenseful."
― Chicago Tribune
“For a novel to be both innovative and heartbreaking is all too rate, but Mark's Slouka's beautiful new book is both. A masterful work.”
—Steve Yarbrough, author of The Unmade World
“A beautiful, deeply felt fiction... this gifted writer's most ambitious book to date.”
—Stuart Dybek, author of The Coast of Chicago
“It's a pure pleasure to turn its pages.”
—Ha Jin, author of The Boat Rocker