“A quirky, funny, melancholy portrait of a significant European moment, captured by this most subtle of Americans abroad.” —Tessa Hadley, author of The Past and Late in the Day
“Brian Kimberling has written a hilarious novel about a man’s search for a home in a time and place—Prague, 1998—not at all conducive to the effort. Wonderful dialogue, endearing characters, and a deep sense of the historical forces at work combine in all the best ways to make Goulash delectable.” —Jessica Francis Kane, author of This Close and Rules for Visiting
Stirring together the perfect proportions of humor, history, romance, and myth, the eagerly awaited new novel by Brian Kimberling brings to brilliant life a people, a time, and a city.
Eager to escape stifling small-town Indiana, Elliott moves to Prague, where he gets a job teaching English. It’s 1998, and the Czech Republic is moving with increasing rapidity out of the shadow of communism and into the wilds of twenty-first-century capitalism. Elliott meets his students in a variety of pubs and conducts his lessons over pints of local Radegast beer. He gets his shoes stolen by an experimental artist who engages Elliott in a number of eccentric schemes. And he meets Amanda, an English teacher from the UK, with whom he falls in love.
Together, they try to make a place for themselves as strangers in this strange land. They explore the dark history and surprising wonders of their adopted city, touring the twisting ancient streets and encountering expats, movie stars, tobacco executives, a former Soviet informant, and the president of Poland. But the forces that are reshaping the city are also at work on them, and eventually it becomes evident that their idyll must end–that change is the only reality one can’t outrun.
A great, hilarious new voice in fiction: the poignant, all-too-human recollections of an affable bird researcher in the Indiana backwater as he goes through a disastrous yet heartening love affair with the place and its people.
Nathan Lochmueller studies birds, earning just enough money to live on. He drives a glitter-festooned truck, the Gypsy Moth, and he is in love with Lola, a woman so free-spirited and mysterious she can break a man’s heart with a sigh or a shrug. Around them swirls a remarkable cast of characters: the proprietor of Fast Eddie’s Burgers & Beer, the genius behind “Thong Thursdays”; Uncle Dart, a Texan who brings his swagger to Indiana with profound and nearly devastating results; a snapping turtle with a taste for thumbs; a German shepherd who howls backup vocals; and the very charismatic state of Indiana itself. And at the center of it all is Nathan, creeping through the forest to observe the birds he loves and coming to terms with the accidental turns his life has taken.