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Fiction Historical

An Inexplicable Story

A Novel

by (author) Josef Skvorecky

Key Porter Books
Initial publish date
Sep 2002
Historical, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2002
    List Price

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In an urn, sealed in the wall of an ancient Central American tomb, the burial chamber of the Mayan king K'inich Yax K'uk'Mo, a mysterious manuscript has been found. The archaeologists who find it are perplexed. The scroll is in Latin, and it is older than the 1,600-year-old tomb itself. It is the 'Narrative of Questus,' a Roman who lived in the 1st century AD, during the reign of Augustus. According to Patrick O. Enfield, the scholar entrusted with the task of translating and commenting on this spectacular find, there can be no doubt of its authenticity. The manuscript is subjected to 'every available test and to detailed linguistic scrutiny.' It is not a hoax. Although the scroll is damaged, it can be read, and it draws a detailed picture of the childhood and youth of the author. Questus is 19, an aspiring inventor who would like to create marvelous new machines for the Imperial army. His father is a remote figure, a military commander who is usually away on campaign. His mother, however, is anything but remote. Still young and delightfully pretty, she is a favourite of the Emperor and also of the poet Ovid (as a child Questuscalled him 'Uncle Ovid'). Ovid's The Art of Love has just been published, and the young diarist and his friends scrutinize it for sexual secrets, hidden meanings and scandal. Slowly, Questus realizes that one of those secrets involves his own mother....

About the author

JOSEF SKVORECKY is an award-winning author whose novels include The Cowards, The Bass Saxophone, The Swell Season and The Engineer of Human Souls. Among his numerous literary awards are the Neustadt International Prize for Literature (1980), the Governor General’s Award for Fiction (1984) and the Czech Republic State Prize for Literature (1999). He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1982, awarded the Order of the White Lion by the President of Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel, in 1990, and in 1992 was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

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