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The Prague Orgy (Zuckerman Bound)

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  889 ratings  ·  58 reviews
The Prague Orgy takes the American novelist Nathan Zuckerman on a quixotic journey to search for the stories of an unknown Yiddish writer. The entries from Zuckermans notebooks are rich with comedy and dense with observation, detailing his relationship with the oppressed artists of communist Prague. In his bizarre adventures with the citys outcast writers, he discovers a p ...more
ebook, 86 pages
Published July 2nd 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1985)
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Fahad
The Prague Orgy

رواية صغيرة التقطتها من مكتبة غائرة في زقاق خلفي، يمتد متعرجاً وراء متحف فرانز كافكا في العاصمة التشيكية براغ، كنت قد خرجت من المتحف مخيباً من أن المحل الملحق به لا يحتوي على أعمال كافكا الكاملة كما يجب، فلذا ولجت المكتبة باحثاً عن قصة (مستعمرة العقاب) والتي لم تترجم للعربية، فلذا لم اقرأها قبل الرحلة، وجذبني لها النموذج المرعب لآلة العقاب الذي وضع في المتحف، وجدت مجلداً لكافكا يحتوي على قصصه القصيرة الكاملة – من ضمنها مستعمرة العقاب – من طباعة دار فانتاج، ووجدت هذه الرواية القصي
...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Regular readers know that I'm in the process of getting through Philip Roth's remarkable nine-book autobiographical "Nathan Zuckerman" series, a slew of novels written from the 1970s through early 2000s that essentially record the entire history of the Postmodernist Era, by looking very pointedly at Roth's
...more
Jennifer Ciotta
Great snippet of Soviet Eastern Europe by Roth. Some parts were insanely funny. Roth is the master of disfunction and great one liners!
R.
Trivial note: In the history of cinema, Philip Roth's double-goer, Nathan Zuckerman, has been portrayed by just two men. These men are the noted thespians Gary Sinise and...Mark Linn-Baker. Which means - must mean - that in some way Roth is a bit Lt. Dan, a bit Cousin Larry. The Zuckerman of this novella (in the Library of America edition of Zuckerman Bound, The Prague Orgy is a little over 50 pages) is more Sinise. Sinise, the smooth operator. Zuckerman is out doing a bit of literary spywork, f ...more
Cymru Roberts
During college I lived in Prague for eight months, so I consider myself a god-damned expert on Czech culture. I’ve seen first-hand the grandmothers at the metro telling others (thankfully not me) to go fuck their mothers, I’ve been turned down with a flat out “zavreno” when trying to enter a shop that was obviously open. The Czechs are a dark people. My teachers said it was a legacy of communism and the constant surveillance and spying on friends and exile and threat or fact of being sent to Sib ...more
F.R.
Much like my re-reading of The Trial, my second look at this book was prompted by my recent visit to Prague. And from that point of view, it does make an interesting comparison between then and now. The city today is almost unrecognisable from the one Roth describes, with its fear and its secret service and surveillance bugs everywhere. Now it’s a thriving Western capital, with big supermarkets, coca-cola and mass advertising for the latest American film (when I was there, Terminator Salvation). ...more
Richard
This epilogue of the Zuckerman Bound trilogy provides an interesting bridge towards the great Zuckerman books, where Zuckerman begins to be an observer and commentor of others. In this, Zuckerman is enticed into going to Prague to free a sheaf of manuscripts of what may be groundbreaking Yiddish literature, works that are being held captive by an exile Czech writer's estranged wife. This short book is a whirlwind of exotic and extreme characters, the type that Roth is a fine constructor of, but ...more
Jim
Since I’ve been working my way through Roth’s novellas I ended up jumping from the first of the Zuckerman books to this, the last, although to be fair it can easily be read as a standalone book without knowing anything of Zuckerman’s history. A number of reviewers have objected to the book’s length (a mere 86 pages). I’ve no problems here at all. It was as long as it needed to be. Anything else would’ve felt like padding. So, labels aside, it was a complete, although admittedly slight, story.

Par
...more
Benji
Did not particularly get into this one as readily as the other Zuckerman books, but the last two thirds changed things dramatically and propelled me to the finish. This is the book that Kundera wishes he could write.

All of the ones in the Zuckerman Unbound volume are way different and more involved than I first expected. I expected some hardcord salacious stuff and that is the theme but its not necessarily the content. The content is more, the effects of that or the impression of that. Very fasc
...more
Aaron
Until last year’s “Exit Ghosts,” “Orgy” was far and away the weakest Zuckerman book (you are off the hook “Deception,” “Facts,” and “My Life as Man”). In its own way, it does not fit in with “Bound,” but instead is a fictional pairing to the interview collection “Shoptalk,” a world tour of writers oppressed by their society, and an American still too self centered to notice what it means to be oppressed.
§--
"No, there's nothing that can't be done to a book, no cause in which even the most innocent of all books cannot be enlisted, not only by them but by you and me." (p. 759)

"No, one's story isn't a skin to be shed--it's inescapable, one's body and blood. You go on pumping it out till you die, the story veined with the themes of your life, the ever-recurring story that's at once your invention and the invention of you." (p. 782 of ZB)

A remarkable little novella of Zuckerman's journey to Prague ["a
...more
Ryan
86 pages and read in one sitting, billed as an epilogue to the first trilogy of the Zuckerman saga, I thought it was a nice little coda to where we left Nathan in The Anatomy Lesson, "shackled" to his "corpus" (his body in pain; his soul ridden with guilt; his profession as a writer; his search of "his story" and the empathy of people, in general and that of his characters), providing a bit of closure for him as well as for us, as he concludes his search for the lost manuscripts of a Jewish writ ...more
Shahzoda Nazarova
در راه برگشت از پراگ رمان بسیار کوتاهی از فیلیپ راث خریدم با عنوان «همخوابگی گروهی پراگ« فقط به خاطر این که عنوان عجیبی داشت و بیش از هشتاد صفحه نبود و هم اینکه این محبورم تمام کتاب های این نویسنده را برای کلاس های آنلاینم بخوانم.
بسیار گیرا بود و در واقع با این که از رویداد های سیاسی ده شصت پراگ می نویسد اما شباهت های بسیاری با امروز کشور های سابق برادر شوروی داشت.
ترس این که نکند خواب باشم و هنوز شوروی فرو نپاشیده باشد دو روز است که با من است.
ترس از این که نکند هنوز غرق آن بازی های کودکانه خود
...more
Roberto
L’orgia di Praga è il penultimo episodio della vita dell'alter ego di Philip Roth, Nathan Zuckerman. Purtroppo ho letto l'orgia di Praga prima degli episodi precedenti (Lo scrittore fantasma, Zuckerman scatenato, La lezione di anatomia) e credo che questo abbia fatto perdere un po' di significato alla storia.

Il libro inizia con l'incontro tra Zuckerman e uno scrittore ceco esule, Zdenek Sisovsky, che lo prega di andare a Praga per recuperare un manoscritto yiddish il cui autore è il padre dello
...more
Gabriel
¿Qué puede hacer un escritor que no puede escribir porque los poderes del estado en el que vive no se lo permiten? Nathan Zuckerman visita Praga en busca de los manuscritos de un escritor yiddish asesinado por los nazis. Para conseguirlos tiene que seducir a una libertina escritora cuyo marido le ha informado a Zuckerman de la existencia de los escritos de su padre que ella tiene en su poder pero que jamás le daría a él mismo. En Praga Zuckerman es testigo de la depravación y la indolencia en la ...more
Josh
The book pretty effectively walks the line between wild romp and social protest piece. I'm not so sure Roth makes a definite point with this story of the Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia, but then as goes the political history of, well, anywhere, I'm a bit of a tard. Thus the point may have been lost on me. We all know censorship and totalitarianism are bad; Roth basically leaves it at that. But it's very fun and incorporates his brand of filthy, filthy, depraved sex. The Olga character is o ...more
julieta
When I read, "one´s story isn´t a skin to be shed- it´s inescapable, one´s body and blood. You go on pumping it out till you die, the story veined with the themes of your life, the ever-recurring story that´s at once your invention and the invention of you", I thought, oh, duh, I get it, that´s what this is about. Roth´s theme es being jewish, and being a writer. I know, pretty obvious, but I like the way he says it. And I have to say I like what he does with these themes. The contrast in this b ...more
Mark
A footnote to the Zuckerman trilogy with the central character a conduit for the tales of others much like the later novels. The characters are contrived to the point of farce. There are a few moments of worth, but overall I wouldnt bother reading other than the fact is so short and is for Zuckerman completists
Steve
Re-reading the Zuckerman Bound trilogy + epilogue is always an amazing experience. The books get richer with each reading, thematically
inter-connecting in endlessly fascinating ways. So many books to read, and I can't stop re-reading Roth....
rmn
Not one of Roth's greatest pieces of fiction but a decent quick read. It felt a bit Operation Shylock-y at times for some reason (which is good). Overall a fine short book.
Dymbula
Sedmdesátá léta, Praha, STBáci, odposlechy, dejme tomu taky trochu sex... Výtečné čtení. Knížka je útlá a dlouho vám nevydrží.
cheeseblab
A coda novella to the Zuckerman trilogy (joining those 3 works in the fourth volume of the Library of America edition--there's also a unproduced teleplay of the novella in the volume, but as compulsive as I am [see my review of The Facts], I didn't feel compelled to read a second version of the same story, particularly a version meant to be acted, not read), a sort of travel adventure story that now seems a formal precursor to the book I just finished, Operation Shylock.
Mike Polizzi
Interesting when placed in contrast to the other Zuckerman books, otherwise fairly thin. Page 62 was the stand out for me, the process by which Zuckerman relates Prague to the used city all of those collected pennies for Israel intended to buy felt genuine. The rest of the book feels rushed, the characters read as cartoons, even the premise of the novel being a journal is only passable. Thinking through the condition of mitteleurope under Soviet rule does give great moments for essay and aside a ...more
Adam
A short gut-punch of Roth. Surprisingly tame in terms of orgies; surprisingly heavy on its takedown of communism and the persecution of Czech intellectuals by the police in the 1970s. Even the cups of coffee are thrilling.
Amelia
I read this short novel in one night, and I loved it. An exploration of what it means to be a writer, and why one endeavors to write, in troubled and controlling times, I found it interesting and funny in a very dry way. This is the first I've read of Roth and it definitely makes me want to read more.

Another reason I found this interesting is that, in Roth's writing, I can see how his style influenced other modern Jewish authors like Chabon, Foer, and many others.
Mike
Sep 02, 2007 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: zuckermanites
A short little epilogue to the Zuckerman Bound trilogy. Very funny. The story is presented as pages of zuck's diary as he wines and dines with czech's wierdest in New York and Prague. Czechoslovakia is in a state of totalitarian Communism and high artists are being persecuted for their work. Zuckerman gets tied up in a crazy bargain with some questionable characters arousing the czech police with hilarious results.
Rosie
A novella. A very entertaining rush of an American author's 48-hour visit to occupied Prague in the 70s. It's full of sex and profanity and lonely people trying to figure out what art is and why they make it and what it does. It's the first roth i've read and i just want to read more now. it's a fun afternoon (or 2 afternoons) read for the summer, i'd imagine very enjoyable for someone who's more familiar with his works.
Michael
The limits of art, in a land of freedom and a land of restriction. Not sure if it works as an "epilogue" to the original Zuckerman trilogy, but on its own it's powerful enough. Read it along with the planned television adaptation Roth turned it into, the one included in the Library of America edition. Good lesson on what literature can do that movies can't (Zuckerman's inner monologue in the novella is much missed).
Boris Feldman
Of the four works in the Zuckerman series, this is the weakest, by fair. Not really a novella. More like a New Yorker story written in the face of a looming alimony payment.
Jeremy
Sep 04, 2008 Jeremy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone + Writers
Recommended to Jeremy by: Me
This is a writer's reflection on what it means to be an "artist" in a very troubled world.

"How dare we?" says this book, and answers itself, "Because that's what we do."

It's very short, good and tight, like Roth always is, and there's no goddamned orgy in it.

Even when there's talk of sex it's about something else. So don't worry.
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Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. He gained early literary fame with the 1959 collection Goodbye, Columbus (winner of 1960's National Book Award), cemented it with his 1969 bestseller Portnoy's Complaint, and has continued to write critically-acclaimed works, many of which feature his fictional alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman. The Zuckerman novels began with The Ghost Writer in 1979, and inc ...more
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