cover image The Hundred Year Flood

The Hundred Year Flood

Matthew Salesses. Little A, $24.95 (258p) ISBN 978-1-4778-2954-7

Salesses (I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying) delivers an immersive novel about identity, myth, and ghosts. In December 2001, after a family betrayal leads to his parents’ separation and his uncle’s suicide, Tee decides to skip his final semester at Boston College and run away to Prague. In the Czech Republic, he befriends renowned painter Pavel Picasso, Pavel’s wife, Katka, and their companion, Rockefeller. Tension rises within the group when Tee develops a romantic interest in Katka. As secrets rush to the surface, a legendary flood submerges the city, and Tee, Katka, Pavel, and Rockefeller each sink into dire circumstances. The majority of the narrative is told from Tee’s perspective in Massachusetts General Hospital, reflecting on his time in Prague while he recovers from a severe head injury. The book also switches briefly to other viewpoints, sometimes retelling the same events from a different person’s perspective. The novel’s nonlinear structure establishes the fluidity of memory as a central theme. Salesses is a capable and graceful storyteller. The characters are flawed, self-serving, and often childish, but Salesses writes them with compassion, providing context to make their decisions believable and elicit empathy from readers. This is an engulfing read. (Aug.)