"The Four Sonyas has the rollicking energy of an 18th-century novel:
Tom Jones perhaps, or Fannie Hill. Its concerns, however, are very much those of our time.
… the ride is well worth the ticket."
—Washington Post Book World
"[T]he ways in which The Four Sonyas, a breathlessly paced comedy of moral corruption,
conceals its larger meaning just beneath the surface of the narration is wonderful to behold."
—New York Newsday
"The Four Sonyas provides capital entertainment. Páral's sensibility is a pleasure to follow."
"Páral is a serious yet accessible novelist whose writing is as apolitical and universal
as his characters are amoral."
In The Four Sonyas, translated from the Czech by William Harkins, Páral uses a Perils-of-Pauline story to examine the way people manipulate and exploit each other. Sonya is a hotel maid who clings to a fairy-tale dream that someday a prince will come and save her. Since Sonya is young and beautiful, there are many princes who share her dream. But the princes are more like frogs, of course, and instead of saving Sonya they flirt with her, kidnap her, and give her mysterious directives. However, even they are really no more free than Sonya, nor more successful in realizing their dreams.
What makes The Four Sonyas truly special is the mesmerizing dynamism of Páral's writing, and Páral's darkly comic vision of a world where people will do almost anything to attain their dreams, where people long for certainties, and where freedom is nothing but another fairy tale.
$22.95 cloth, 391 pp., ISBN 0-945774-15-X. Also available as an e-book.
To read the first chapter of The Four Sonyas, in PDF format, click here.