We interrupt our regular programming to alert all of our Czech and Slovak friends in the New York area to try to attend Mark Slouka’s book launch for Nobody’s Son at the Powerhouse Arena on Thursday, Oct 20, 2016.
Mark is an internationally recognized author of six books and both his fiction and nonfiction books have been translated into sixteen languages. His stories have twice been selected for inclusion in Best American Short Stories, and his essays have appeared three times for Best American Essays.
His latest work, Nobody’s Son is a memoir. It is his fearless and profoundly personal attempt to recall and give justice to a family history marked by exile, silence and trauma.
“There can come a time in your life when the past decides to run you down,” writes author Mark Slouka. “You’re not going to get away.”
For Slouka, that moment of truth, following the death of his father and the loss of his mother’s memory to dementia and Alzheimer’s, forced a reckoning not only with the losses and victories of the past but with the very nature of memory. Spanning four generations and two world wars, Nobody’s Son: A Memoir is his fearless, profoundly personal attempt to do justice to lives marked by exile, silence and trauma, a story reaching from his grandfather’s hanging on the Italian front to his father witnessing Hitler’s motorcade entering Czechoslovakia, from his parents’ harrowing escape from the Stalinist purges of 1948 to his own childhood in New York City.
A story of political exile as well as the exile that can separate us from one another, Nobody’s Son is the record of one man’s struggle to break through to some saving truth; to understand his parents’ particular combination of burdens and strengths, to rescue, at whatever cost, what memories remain. For these to mean anything, however, Slouka must first come to terms with the story of his mother, a figure both abused and abusive, tormented and enduring; a woman capable of extraordinary joy whose behavior over time became punctuated by increasingly violent outbursts and shocking rages, depressions, and hallucinations. Determined to understand what went wrong, to rescue her from the pit of his resentment, Slouka begins to dig into her life, unearthing, layer by layer, the traumas of childhood, the terror of war and the loneliness of exile, and finally, at the center of her heart, the life-long love that nearly saved her.
Reflective and urgent, deeply personal and surprisingly universal, Nobody’s Son is a rescue mission into the precincts of memory that admits everything into evidence – the dreams we own, the truths we hide, the lies we tell. By turns lyrical, incisive, humorous and tenacious, marked by chapters that read like moments suspended in amber and held up to the light, it teases apart a century’s worth of fact and fiction, courage and cowardice – all enfolded in the greater drama of history – in order to front a simple question: Is it ever possible to entirely lose a love that once was true.
Recalling works by W.G. Sebald and Geoffrey Wolff, Nobody’s Son is a remarkable memoir: a testament to the necessity of confronting our ghosts that somehow manages to affirm, in the face of personal and political tragedy, the saving grace of looking back at what once was, aiming for justice, but biased toward love.
What others are saying about Nobody’s Son:
“A remarkable story remarkably told….I have never before read anything except Nabokov’s Speak, Memory that so relentlessly and shrewdly exhausted the kindness and cruelty of recollection shaping devices.”—Geoffrey Wolff
“‘Pinned like Ahab to his whale,’ Mark Slouka sets out to confront his own leviathan. In his quiver: memories both sacred and flawed; hope, the thing without a GPS; resolve, the kind born of desperation; and love. The last will hit the mark. A brilliant memoir.”—Kathryn Harrison
“This singular memoir reverberates with obstinate, refreshing candor. Mark Slouka demonstrates powerfully the ways that memory is a function of imagination.”—Phillip Lopate
“Mark Slouka’s superb memoir should become a classic…. A heartwrenching tale of the demise of a family, told with the hard-won honesty and insight of a genuine artist. I was enthralled from start to finish.”—Lynne Sharon Schwartz
“Mark Slouka softens neither the events he’s recalling nor his own struggle, sentence by sentence, to register them as truly as he can. Paradoxically, they’ve yielded a thing of beauty.”—David Gates
“A masterwork….astonishingly fierce yet powerfully lyric. The story moves beyond the search for a self into the tangled narratives of both private memory and the ravaged history of 20th century Central Europe.”—Patricia Hampl
Book Launch for Nobody’s Son
Thursday Oct 20, 2016
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
28 Adams St.
Brooklyn , NY 11201
For more information, please call 718.666.3049
RSVP appreciated: RSVP@PowerHouseArena.com
*The SVU is an independent non-profit international cultural organization dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, the free dissemination of ideas, and the fostering of contact among people. It brings together scholars, scientists, artists, writers, students, lawyers, businessmen and others, throughout the world who have, because of their ethnic background or professional calling, have an interest in the Czech Republic and/ or Slovakia, their histories, peoples or their cultural and intellectual contributions. To join us and become a member of Czechoslovak Society of Arts & Sciences (SVU), please click here.
- The Powerhouse Arena Page for Mark’s book launch, here.
- Pre-order the book on Amazon, here.
- Preview of Nobody’s Son in the New Yorker, here.
- Mark Slouka’s website, here.
- Mark Slouka’s Facebook page, here.
- Mark Slouka’s Author Page on Amazon, here.
- Interview with Mark on WUNC, here.
If you are in the area, we do hope you’ll try to attend and support Mark’s book launch. We wish we were there, but unfortunately we cannot travel to New York at this time due to a current project we are working on. If you do attend, please take some photos that we can share with our Facebook readers!
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