The Attempt

224 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $16.95
ISBN: 9781942658085


ISBN: 9781942658092

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The Attempt is historical fiction at its best. Through its narrator’s archival approach to his material, the book explores the intimate lives of a pair of fervent idealists, as well as a robber baron and his family. The result is a vivid, poignant narrative about political upheaval, both in the past and the present.”

Siri Hustvedt, author of The Blazing World

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“This intriguing story of a present-day Czech immigrant who imagines himself as the great grandson of a Russian anarchist is beautifully written.”

Dublin Literary Award Longlist citation

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“A lively story. . . . Platzová demonstrates an understanding of anarchy and has a remarkable ability to explain it without dumbing it down.”

World Literature Today

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“A powerfully distilled meditation on the meaning of freedom, a ferocious complexity lurking beneath its smooth and hypnotically readable surface.”

Words Without Borders

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Culture Trip

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“Masterful . . . in the tradition of Prus, Kundera, and Vonnegut. . . . [Platzová’s] writing style is varied, sparing, insightful, and at times nothing short of poetic. Enthusiastically recommended.”

Historical Novels Review

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“Between this and 2014’s Aaron’s Leap, Platzová is on a roll, telling rich stories of European history and the 20th century’s cumbrous fallout.”

Publishers Weekly

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“In her resonant and lucid tale, elegantly translated by Alex Zucker, Platzová weaves together the story of her hero’s search and an imaginary reconstruction of the passionate history that haunts him, and suggests the enduring power of ideals even after they have been shattered.”

Caleb Crain, author of Necessary Errors

“Platzová’s lively prose keeps readers on tenterhooks while tracing the troubled history of an industrialist’s family and fortune and the rise and fall of anarchism.”

Edith Kurzweil, former editor of Partisan Review and author of Full Circle: A Memoir

“[A] carefully crafted story, written in a lucid and refined language. . . . The Attempt examines the perennial questions of social order, sacrifice and self-sacrifice, freedom, and acceptability of violence as the conditions for change. These questions catch us by surprise in our post-utopian times, especially when an East European author of Platzová’s generation raises them. But [she] succeeds in her attempt to bring these questions to life and show their relevance; she does it without ideology and with urgency, which make the novel a pleasure to read.”

Veronika Tuckerova, Preceptor in Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University

“An intelligently human book about politics, struggle, love and frustration.”

Justin Souther, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe (Asheville, NC)

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When a Czech historian becomes convinced he’s the illegitimate great-grandson of an infamous anarchist who attempted an assassination while living in the United States, he travels to New York to investigate. Arriving in Manhattan during the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement, his research takes him further back into the past—from the Pittsburgh home of a nineteenth-century US industrialist to 1920s Europe, where a celebrated anarchist couple is on the run from the law.

Based on the lives of Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman, The Attempt is a novel about the legacy of radical politics and relationships—one that traverses centuries and continents to deliver a moving, powerful story of personal and political transformation.

The Attempt is translated from the Czech by Alex Zucker.

Dublin Literary Award Longlist

Czech Book Award Finalist

World Literature Today “Notable Translations of the Year” selection

Words Without Borders “Women in Translation to Read Now” selection

Culture Trip “Books about Occupy Wall Street You Need to Read” selection

Book Culture Selects Subscription Program & “Women in Translation Month” selection

Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café Staff Pick

Multnomah County Library “Best Books of the Year” selection


Excerpt from The Attempt

Watch Magdaléna Platzová discuss The Attempt with translator Alex Zucker in the European Voices series.