Prague

Prague

A Novel

Book - 2002
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Random House, Inc.
A first novel of startling scope and ambition, Prague depicts an intentionally lost Lost Generation as it follows five American expats who come to Budapest in the early 1990s to seek their fortune—financial, romantic, and spiritual—in an exotic city newly opened to the West. They harbor the vague suspicion that their counterparts in Prague, where the atmospheric decay of post–Cold War Europe is even more cinematically perfect, have it better. Still, they hope to find adventure, inspiration, a gold rush, or history in the making. What they actually find is a deceptively beautiful place that they often fail to understand. What does it mean to fret about your fledgling career when the man across the table was tortured by two different regimes? How does your short, uneventful life compare to the lives of those who actually resisted, fought, and died? What does your angst mean in a city still pocked with bullet holes from war and crushed rebellion? Journalist John Price finds these questions impossible to answer yet impossible to avoid, though he tries to forget them in the din of Budapest’s nightclubs, in a romance with a secretive young diplomat, at the table of an elderly cocktail pianist, and in the moody company of a young man obsessed with nostalgia. Arriving in Budapest one spring day to pursue his elusive brother, John finds himself pursuing something else entirely, something he can’t quite put a name to, something that will draw him into stories much larger than himself. With humor, intelligence, masterly prose, and profound affection for both Budapest and his own characters, Arthur Phillips not only captures his contemporaries but also brilliantly renders the Hungary of past and present: the generations of failed revolutionaries and lyric poets, opportunists and profiteers, heroes and storytellers.
1. Amusingly, critics have cited both Phillips’ “compassion” for his characters and his “lack of compassion” for his characters. Which, if either, of these assessments seems accurate to you? Does an author’s compassion for his or her characters matter to your experience of reading a story? Should an author implicitly or explicitly pass judgment or reserve judgment on the characters? Should he or she make clear to the reader which characters are admirable and which are not? 2. 1.How do you feel Part II ( The Horváth Kiadó ), the subplot detailing the history of a Hungarian publishing house, fits into the structure of Prague ? What function does it serve the novel as a whole? What is gained or lost by its placement immediately after the stories introduced in Part I ( First Impressions )? 3. At the end of the novel, journalist John Price, arguably the central character of the novel, is en route to the city of Prague. What do you think becomes of him there and afterwards? 4. The title of the book is a subject of much discussion. While John is the only main character who aspires to the literal Prague, how do other characters reveal their longing for other places, times, and lives, for a metaphorical “Prague”? Which, if any, of the characters seems to be most at peace in their real circumstances? 5. Did Charles Gábor, the American who invests in the Horváth press, behave badly? How? If so, what should he have done instead? If he behaved badly, did he know it? What do you think the Horváth press represents? Is its absorption by Multinational Median a loss? 6. What does History mean to the novel’s characters? How does it shape their personalities and actions? Do you believe in a “national character”? How much of an individual’s personality do you think is dictated by it? How does the impact of characters’ family history compare to the impact of their national history? 7. Charles Gábor says intentionally offensive things to other characters, both in rounds of the game Sincerity and in general conversation. John Price’s columns often say the opposite of what he feels. Nádja’s stories are often loosely inspired by the lives of her listeners. How else does the concept of irony operate in this novel? In what ways can irony be harmful? Why do certain characters use it, and how? Who is the best liar in the novel? 8. Phillips lived in Budapest from 1990-92. Do you think, therefore, that his novel can be taken as an accurate portrait of that time and place? Can it be taken as reliable history or sociology? Can any novel? Do you believe Phillips when he states that his main characters are “entirely fictional”? How do you think truth is transformed into fiction? 9. Can “expatriate novels” be considered a genre? If so, what do they have in common? Does Prague add anything new to this category? 10. The six Westerners and Mária are in their 20’s. Imre Horváth was in his 20’s during the World War II episodes of Part II. Nádja was in her 20’s in some of her stories. Does something happen to most people’s personalities or attitudes in this period of their lives? How do people view an experience or an age differently as time separates them from it?

Baker & Taylor
Five American expatriates living in Budapest in the early 1990s seek to establish themselves and make their fortunes in a city still haunted by the tragedies of its Communist past.

Blackwell North Amer
A first novel, Prague depicts an intentionally lost Lost Generation as it follows five American expats who come to Budapest in the early 1990s to seek their fortune - financial, romantic, and spiritual - in an exotic city newly opened to the West. They harbor the vague suspicion that their counterparts in Prague, where the atmospheric decay of post-Cold War Europe is even more cinematically perfect, have it better. Still, they hope to find adventure, inspiration, a gold rush, or history in the making. What they actually find is a deceptively beautiful place that they often fail to understand. What does it mean to fret about your fledgling career when the man across the table was tortured by two different regimes? How does your short, uneventful life compare to the lives of those who actually resisted, fought, and died? What does your angst mean in a city still pocked with bullet holes from war and crushed rebellion?
Journalist John Price finds these questions impossible to answer yet impossible to avoid, though he tries to forget them in the din of Budapest's nightclubs, in a romance with a secretive young diplomat, at the table of an elderly cocktail pianist, and in the moody company of a young man obsessed with nostalgia. Arriving in Budapest one spring day to pursue his elusive brother, John finds himself pursuing something else entirely, something he can't quite put a name to, something that will draw him into stories much larger than himself.

Publisher: New York : Random House, 2002
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780375507878
0375507876
Branch Call Number: FICTION PHILL...A

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Diell Jan 09, 2015

good book
though no one to like here.

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