Memento Park

Mark Sarvas. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-20637-6
Sarvas’s rich and engaging second novel is worth the decade’s wait since his first, Harry, Revised. Nearing 40, Matt Santos has an undistinguished but lucrative acting career, a swimsuit-model fiancée, and the confidence of having life figured out. Matt’s father, Gabor, a first-generation immigrant with whom he has a distant, contentious relationship, has raised Matt without connection to their Jewish identity and Hungarian heritage. Then authorities charged with returning Nazi-appropriated artworks notify Matt that a 1925 painting valued at several million dollars, stolen from his family during WWII, may be returned. The usually grasping Gabor refuses to accept the piece—of which Matt knows nothing—or explain its connection with their past; as Matt probes the painting’s history and revisits his own religious and family roots for answers, his attraction to restitution attorney Rachel Steinberg and shifting vision of the father he has dismissed as cruel and indifferent throw him into tumult. Sarvas couples a suspenseful mystery with nuanced meditations on father-son bonds, the intricacies of identity, the aftershocks of history’s horrors, and the ways people and artworks can—perhaps even must—be endlessly reinterpreted. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/22/2018
Release date: 03/13/2018
Library Binding - 397 pages - 978-1-4328-5207-8
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-250-31035-4
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