Books & Breakfast With Mark Sarvas

Books & Breakfast With Mark Sarvas

On Thursday, May 10, Literary Affairs welcomed Mark Sarvas, the best-selling author of Harry, Revised, to discuss his new book Memento Park.

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Listen to our podcast of this event on iTunes.


Mark Sarvas’s second novel, Memento Park, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2018. His debut novel, Harry, Revised, was published in more than a dozen countries around the world. His book reviews and criticism have appeared in The New York Times Book ReviewThe Threepenny ReviewThe Philadelphia InquirerBookforum, and The Los Angeles Review of Books (where he is a contributing editor). He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and PEN/America, PEN Center USA and has judged numerous book prizes. He began his literary career as the host of the popular and controversial literary weblog “The Elegant Variation” (retired), a Guardian Top 10 Literary Blog and a Forbes MagazineBest of the Web pick. He lives in Santa Monica and teaches advanced novel writing in the UCLA Writers Program.


A son learns more about his father than he ever could have imagined when a mysterious piece of art is unexpectedly restored to him…

After receiving an unexpected call from the Australian consulate, Matt Santos becomes aware of a painting that he believes was looted from his family in Hungary during the Second World War. To recover the painting, he must repair his strained relationship with his harshly judgmental father, uncover his family history, and restore his connection to his own Judaism. Along the way to illuminating the mysteries of his past, Matt is torn between his doting girlfriend, Tracy, and his alluring attorney, Rachel, with whom he travels to Budapest to unearth the truth about the painting and, in turn, his family.

As his journey progresses, Matt’s revelations are accompanied by equally consuming and imaginative meditations on the painting and the painter at the center of his personal drama, Budapest Street Scene by Ervin Kálmán. By the time Memento Park reaches its conclusion, Matt’s narrative is as much about family history and father-son dynamics as it is about the nature of art itself, and the infinite ways we come to understand ourselves through it.

Of all the questions asked by Mark Sarvas’s Memento Park―about family and identity, about art and history―a central, unanswerable predicament lingers: How do we move forward when the past looms unreasonably large?

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