Best Fiction of 2002 Lists
Featuring Prague

NEW YORK TIMES (Notable Fiction)








(Books to Remember)


Summer Recommended Book
Lists Featuring Prague










Ingenious debut novel…with a wry generosity and haunting poignancy to rival his wonderfully subversive wit.

Janet Maslin, New York Times

Phillips makes this slacker Sun Also Risesa dark star with a swaggering style…Few first novels blaze with such all-knowing poise…he may be a great novelist.

Kyle Smith, People Magazine (Critic's Choice)

A story of devastating emotional accuracy, striking intelligence, and irrepressible wit…One of the most sophisticated and profound novels I've read in years, a witty, humane tale of a generation stumbling in a dim glow that could be dawn or twilight.

Ron Charles, Christian Science Monitor

Rich meditation on post-ideological ennui…really an old-fashioned novel of ideas…Very funny…likely to leave you aching, too.

Daniel Mendelsohn, The New Yorker

Everything about this dazzling first novel is utterly original… devilishly clever… [Phillips'] writing is swift, often poetic, unerringly exact with voices and subtle details of time, place and weather. This novel is so complete a distillation of its theme and characters that it leaves a reader wondering how on earth Phillips can follow it up…the most memorable fiction debut of the year to date.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

There used to be novels…that managed to be both entertaining and thoughtful. Think Graham Greene or W. Somerset Maugham… But since those two suave giants died, no one's come along to fill their shoes. Which is the first of several good reasons to welcome the arrival of Arthur Phillips…We can stop yearning for that elegant, entertaining novel that used to be. Thanks to Phillips, it's right here, right now.

Malcolm Jones, Newsweek

Wry and skillful...marvelous flights of erudite fancy...a rare balance of wisdom and imagination.

Adam Goodheart, The New York Times Book Review

Command[ing] a sweep of history and a mastery of language… Phillips's exhilarating exploration of time, memory, and nostalgia brings to mind such giants as Proust and Joyce.

Edward Cone, Library Journal

Its author is prodigiously gifted.... A witty, well-informed intelligence is constantly at play....The writing depends purely on its own flair and inventiveness, and watching the author find different ways of rising to the occasion is a part of the pleasure of reading....The devious machinations of this plot...are handled expertly....A velvety cream of detail reminiscent of Nabokov.

James Lasdun, The Guardian (UK)

Hilarious and scathing…Reading it is like meandering through an endlessly diverting city…On any given page of Prague, you're likely to find yourself purring with pleasure.

Laura Miller, Salon.com

Prague is an astonishingly good first novel…lyrical and caustic by turns…sustains a brilliant tension between romanticism and irony…Phillips has achieved the…hallmarks of the best European fiction.

Brigitte Frase,Minneapolis Star Tribune

Phillips' novel has scope, historical perspective and complexity, especially rare in most first novels…Manages to convey volumes about his characters… Heartbreaking…a masterpiece of caustic satire….A substantive book.

Heller McAlpin, Los Angeles Times Book Review

The year's first distinguished American debut novel… A mathematical elegance of form… Mr. Phillips writes exceptionally well… Budapest lives in this book…a fine thing for those who value the art of fiction.

Tim Marchman, The New York Sun

The man has been simply blessed with story-telling genes.


A master story-teller.

Der Spiegel

I found this book warmly nostalgic, a real pleasure for anyone who's ever experienced the year away.... It's also very funny indeed.

Time Out London

Rhapsodic...complex and melancholic...earnest, atmospheric...His Budapest is...a canvas on which to draw a carefully detailed contrast.

Julian Rubenstein, Washington Post Book World

Wry, savvy, bittersweet… astonishingly assured… a bravura performance… The whole novel sings out with seductive Èlan… A gravitas beneath the book's bright surface calls to mind the rueful-romantic notes of F. Scott Fitzgerald's best fiction.

Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times

Arthur Phillips' debut novel is often intoxicating. His descriptions can astonish, several characters hook you, and the conceit that drives this ambitious fiction is admirably inventive…Prague bursts with imagination and style.

Carlo Wolff, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Prague shimmers with youthful energy and the seductive power of fleeting possibilities.

Anderson Tepper, Time Out New York

Dazzling first novel…Prague reveals a writer of limitless imagination and admirable wit. It is an auspicious debut.

Howard Kissel, New York Daily News

Arthur Phillips's bold and ambitious novel, Prague, is one of those rare books that help define and identify a whole generation, in the same way that Hemingway'sThe Sun Also Rises introduced his lost generation.

Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides

The first half of 2002 alone can boast brilliant first novels… Good as these are, they're surpassed by Arthur Phillips's fiendishly clever Prague.

Bruce Allen, Kirkus Reviews (cover review)

Prague is one of the best first novels I've read in several years...Like the old and beautiful city for which the novel is named, Prague requires and rewards leisurely exploration.

Tom Leclair, Book Magazine (4½ stars)

Unquestionably wonderful Cold War fiction from an unquestionably wonderful writer. This book should be nothing less than a splendid example of fine writing for discerning readers.

Jeff Guinn, Ft Worth Morning Star-Telegram

Conjures the poignancy of a disappeared Budapest ....for my money, Phillips has come about as close to nailing the Nineties Left Bank as tangential can get.  The themes that concern him, authenticity and the elsewhereness of life, mirror those that once drove Czech emigre authors such as Josef Skvorecky and Milan Kundera.

Sadakat Kadri, The New Statesman (UK)

His grasp of history, his sense of place, his suave yet nervy prose style, and his ability to convey the ambivalent feelings of his characters are most impressive. He has succeeded in writing a sophisticated yet surprisingly moving novel that will speak to readers…with a keen sense of irony.

Merle Rubin, The Baltimore Sun

With great dialogue, irony, satire and superb descriptive passages, this novel works on many levels.

The Sunday Mail (Brisbane, Australia)

Fresh, ironic, hilarious… Prague amazes the reader at almost every turn…Prague captures a specific time and place but does so with the brush of universal humanity.

Michele Ross, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Deeply funny and wise debut…Phillips' angle of attack is sly and revelatory…all calculation and sublime payoff in one of 2002's most notable accomplishments.

Clay Smith, Austin Chronicle

The fullest exploration of the expat dilemma in all its messiness is in Arthur Phillips's Prague. Through the choice of his title alone, Phillips announces to his readers that he is one step ahead of the game

Eliot Borenstein, Johnson's Russia List

Phillips' splendid first novel…lives up to the hullabaloo…dazzling…humor delicately poised on the knife-edge of horror.

Mark Schechner, Buffalo News

Arthur Phillips is a dazzling literary talent....His layering of the dreams and self-deception of youth...is brilliant.

The Age (Melbourne, Australia)

He draws the reader into the nature of time and memory and cultural dislocation with tremendous wit and skill…It’s hard to be funny and elegiac at the same time, but Phillips manages, and he does it brilliantly. It is the gift of this wonderful new novel.

Kit Reed, The Hartford Courant

Phillips maintains a tricky balance of satiric and ironic distance with a genuine exuberance and celebration of youth's strange, beautiful bloom… A promising new writer who's smart, savvy, and admirably ambitious; a writer to watch.

Andrew Roe, San Francisco Chronicle

Reading "Prague" is both a giddy and an exhilarating experience…This is one of the most assured and accomplished first novels of the year

Susan Larson, New Orleans Times-Picayune

An intricate and wordly-wise novel, with sly and acute perceptions on every page,Prague sets itself the challenge of extending the tradition of brainy Central European fiction from an American perspective, and succeeds handily.

Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait of My Body

How these characters come to lose their naive preconceptions and confront the real reasons behind their own self-imposed exiles drives this unpredictable, historically rich first novel.

Maureen Shelly, Time Out New York (Top 10 Summer Fiction Picks)

[Prague] will infuse you with its retrospective, bittersweet wisdom.

Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times

…sparkling, Kundera-flavored… Phillips's five seekers are like mirrors that reflect Budapest at different angles, and that imperfectly — but wonderfully — point toward the unattainable city: the glittering, distant Prague.

Regina Marler, Amazon.com Editor

Superb…rich in history and beautifully written…this is an auspicious debut.

Stephen Bloom, BN.com Editor

Brilliantly entertaining…artfully crafted comedy…intricate…makes one hope for a sequel.

Judith Wynn, The Boston Herald

A remarkable tour de force…Phillips‚ descriptions of the life and atmosphere of Budapest…are perfect…Brilliantly written.

Barbara Dickinson, Roanoke Times and World News

Captures the post-revolution atmosphere...with precision and pungency... I have not read any fiction or nonfiction that renders the details...so successfully....The most substantial fictional treatment to date of that vibrant period.

John Allison, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Sharp and playful…With his deft use of description and language, he paints a rich textured portrait…Meticulously drawn…Phillips probes the peculiarities of desire, unrequited love, and perception…Sometimes it’s hard to remember this is Phillips’ first novel, it’s that good.

J.P. Trostle, Durham Herald-Sun

An inside look at the repercussions of being a tourist in your own life.

William Henderson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Phillips… has a fine sense of time and place. He's ironic, yet sympathetic to his characters. He's best when he plays, on several levels, with the clash of cultures between an old world, burdened by history, and a new world, blinded by the present.

Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today

In Prague, Arthur Phillips spins the Jazz Age novel… A hip-hop remix of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, a meditation on a generation, a polemic, a love story, a new branch of sociology, Prague tries to do it all and succeeds.

Pagan Kennedy, author of Black Livingstone

…a soulful chronicle….Phillips…tiptoes bravely upon the thematic terrain of Eastern European heavyweights like Milan Kundera, but with a cool yet swervingly romantic (and American) take; think The Sun Also Rises updated by Jonathan Franzen and you're maybe halfway there.

Jonathan Miles, Men's Journal

An expat novel worth waiting for…filled with precise detail and knowing insight…a great read…bitingly funny…The descriptions of the city's key locations reflect the knowledge of somebody who was there at a special moment.

Raymond Johnston, The Prague Post

Phillips brings to vivid life the shabby-genteel, sometimes brutal city itself... Phillips is a clever writer, but also one with heart. And Prague is the kind of novel you feel good about having spent time with.

Charles Matthews, San Jose Mercury News

Prague is a wickedly funny examination of aimless youths in a country undergoing radical social and political change.

The Newark Star-Ledger

[Phillips captures] a uniquely contemporary self-consciousness…Phillips remains throughout a witty and acute observer of the mid-twenties search for meaning.

Taylor Antrim, Esquire

Phillips is a master of detail, a deft creator of characters, a witty and energetic stylist…a virtuoso writer…clearly a talent we'll hear more from.

Polly Paddock, The Charlotte Observer

Phillips constructs his debut novel like an especially brilliant player of the game he's invented…Prague is told with wonderful attention to detail, wit, intelligence and genuine compassion for its characters.

Juliet Waters, The Montreal Mirror

A masterful writer. His Budapest is exotic, fascinating and beautiful.

Rebecca Dalzell, The Daily Pennsylvanian

Detailed, intoxicating, and often bitingly humorous...Sensitive yet unsentimental.

Jessica Steinhoff, Shepherd Express

[The characters'] trajectories are moving, funny, and above all, interesting.

Roger Gathman, Bookpage

Phillips displays startling talents for metaphor and comic description.

Troy Patterson, Entertainment Weekly

Linguistically audacious.

Andrew Furman, The Miami Herald

Mr. Phillips has a flair for witty dialogue.

Elizabeth Bukowski, The Wall Street Journal

Terrifically scintillating tour of…Budapest…The energy of Prague is as wild and giddy as the year it unfolds.

Gail Caldwell, The Boston Globe

…astonishing verbal verve. He has the gift of the perfect snarky one-liner…

Lev Grossman, Time Magazine

Phillips really shines…in his portrayal of Hungarian characters, who make 1990 Budapest dance off the page.

Michael Sauer, Newcitychicago.com

Prague is so unerring and intelligent, it's almost unthinkable that it's his debut.

Schwartz Books,