Arthur Phillips   Prague  
Arthur Phillips  
Read an Interview with Arthur Phillips

Read an Excerpt from Prague

  Prague is the story of five young expatriates living in Budapest shortly after the collapse of Communism opened the gates to Eastern Europe to hordes of Western thrill-seeking twentysomethings. If you're of a certain age and sensibility, you may be able to close your eyes and remember back to a time when the thought of pushing adulthood off for another year or so was a top priority, and the newly-accessible city of Prague beckoned strongly. Lured by stunning architecture, a rich cultural history and, perhaps most importantly, an incredibly favorable exchange rate, young men and women flocked there in droves.

Arthur Phillips sets his fin-de-siècle novel in Budapest, Prague's less idealized cousin, and his cast of characters possesses the feeling that the real party might be in the Czech capital and that the city they've settled for, like their lives, is almost the place to be, but not quite it. As this intentionally lost generation seeks out sexual adventure, fame, fortune and copious amounts of an unappealing-sounding herbal liqueur called Unicum, Phillips brilliantly recreates a recently vanished world. He deftly weaves in the multi-generational subplot of a Hungarian publishing family and the story of an aged and mysterious jazz pianist that adds historical weight and balance to the tale of the young expats. There's no sense if offering any further preview of the plot, because there's so much pleasure to be had in discovering it for yourself. Told in poetic prose and with sparkling wit, it is a multi-layered tour de force. Full of humor and brio, Prague is fiercely entertaining; it's the kind of novel read cover to cover with a smile on your face.

In this issue of Bold Type you can read an interview with the author, an original short story, an amusing outtake from the novel, and an excerpt from Prague. Check back in a few months for an exclusive audio reading by the author.

Larry Weissman
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  Photo credit: Peter Turnley

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