THE HUNDRED-YEAR FLOOD by Matthew Salesses


Email this review


After Tee, an American college student taking a semester off in Prague, is attacked during a citywide flood, his father arrives and returns him to Massachusetts to recover.

Overwhelmed with his uncle’s suicide in the aftermath of 9/11, Tee flees to Prague in December 2001. Still struggling to come to terms with his own adoption and his father’s affair, he melts seamlessly into life in Prague, befriended by an ex-revolutionary artist named Pavel Picasso and his wife, Katka. Tee and Katka begin an affair, and Katka moves in with him, but their newfound bliss is interrupted by a citywide evacuation because of the epic flood that washes over the city once every hundred years. Repeatedly refusing aid, Tee decides that he and Katka will remain in the drowning city and take their chances: “If the water did rise and cut them off from the rest of Prague, they would be unreachable,” Tee thinks, “even from their pasts.” Of course, everything suddenly proceeds to get a whole lot worse until Tee is nearly killed in a surprise attack. The novel shifts back and forth in time—juxtaposing Tee’s present in a Massachusetts rehab facility with his time in Prague—peeling back layers of truth and lies in each character's understanding of self. Salesses (I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying, 2013) takes on a difficult assignment in Tee, a main character who drifts, confused and depressed—at his worst broodingly suicidal, at his best passive and sad. Yet the novel’s real stumbling point is Salesses’ portrayal of women as a tool for male actualization; women exist only to provide Tee with much-needed character development. Even the injured Katka, fighting for her life, just wants Tee to discover who he truly is: “I want you to have that life,” she gasps.

What carries us through the novel is Salesses’ gift for language: here is a meditative, poetic, modern fable crafted in haunting bursts of impressionistic prose.

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4778-2837-3
Page count: 258pp
Publisher: Little A
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2015


FictionTHE MOTHER by Yvette Edwards
by Yvette Edwards
FictionPRAGUE by Arthur Phillips
by Arthur Phillips
FictionTHE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger
by J.D. Salinger