Mark Slouka teaches at the University of Chicago.
The unnamed 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.Nowhere is this more true than in regard to his mother, Ivana, a spontaneous, passionate woman moving ever closer to genuine 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 Czech Resistance named Tomas, an affair whose untimely end, he senses, lays 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 moments of the war: the actual assassination of a high-ranking Nazi official. And, in the almost unimaginably romantic story he tells, he creates the ending of their story and the beginning of his own.