for Raising Girls in Bohemia:
The freshly written, deeply felt essays in Raising Girls in Bohemia: Meditations of an American Fathe, were fascinating when first published individually in literary magazines. Richard Katrovas vividly conveys the complexity of the relationship between a father and his bilingual daughters who are being raised as citizens of two very di erent cultures. But to read these essays together adds a welcome sense of an overarching narrative, and dials the level of complexity higher still. e result is a vital, one-of-a-kind book.
– Stuart Dybek, author of The Coast of Chicago
…a potent, fascinating book.
– Tracy Kidder, author of Strength in What Remains
Sometimes a person is in the right place at the right time to witness history, which is lucky. Sometimes that person is a writer of Richard Katrovas’ talent, which is even luckier. ese twenty-three essays re ect on a world bent on transforming itself, gazed through the transformative eye of fatherhood. From his unique position—one foot in the Bohemia of the French Quarter, one in, well, Bohemia, Katrovas speaks with humor and authority, whether describing the “Worst Restaurant in the Western World,” or realizing that “My daughters are more physically free in Europe, and more rhetorically free in America.” Raising Girls in Bohemia is a clear-eyed, sure-handed, big-hearted book.
– Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Great with Child
A remarkable achievement, a heady ride, wise and knowing.
– Patricia Hampl, author of A Romantic Education
Richard Katrovas tells a unique story of how his own rootless childhood in the U.S. led him eventually to have roots in two continents as the loving father of three daughters born in Czech Republic. Though he reminds the reader often of the unusual twists and turns of his early life—Dickensian barely describes it!—by the end of this book, he has in fact told the story of his generation, especially the men of his generation. The final essay, “Glenn Beck Is Not My Brother,” is the best I know about the heartbreaking divisions in American society today.
– Mark Jarman, author of Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems
If, as Socrates told us, the unexamined life is not worth living, Richard Katrovas demonstrates amply, in Raising Girls in Bohemia, that a life considered rationally, and with sensitivity, reveals insight both triumphant and heartbreaking. This is a fascinating book. In these essays Katrovas proclaims unceasingly that the lives of his beloved daughters—indeed all of our lives—are not problems to be solved, but rather mysteries to be lived.
– Gerald Costanzo, director, Carnegie Mellon University Press
Speaking from first-hand knowledge, I can say that Richard Katrovas is an exemplary parent, friend, and colleague, generous, tough-minded, invigoratingly opinionated, and tender-hearted. As a writer of prose and poetry, he is simply an international treasure. All of these qualities are on display in Raising Girls in Bohemia, a wide-ranging collection of essays that speaks not only to fathers, daughters, and Bohemians both upper and lower case, but to all of us who matter to each other.
– Arnold Johnston, author of The Witching Voice: A Novel from the Life of Robert Burns
In these trenchant essays, Richard Katrovas strips away the gauzy romanticism of expatriate life to probe the challenges of raising three Czech- American daughters in a culture he cannot fully embrace—and that can never fully embrace him in return. In sweeping, meditative arcs, the essays roam from the author’s own complex relationship with his incarcerated father to his struggles with the language and customs of Prague, turning always on the axis of his profound love for his daughters. A must read for anyone interested in the literature of expatriation.
– Robert Eversz, author of Gypsy Hearts
A brave meditation on the hazards and fleeting forms of happiness available to a navigator of two divergent cultures. The American poet and prose writer Richard Katrovas exploresthe fallout from his doomed marriage to a Czech woman, and in the process addresses his own complicated inheritance—the ways in which his father’s long-term imprisonment shaped his childhood; his fierce love for his three daughters and inability to protect them from heartbreak; the difficulty he finds in entering into another language and life. In these wide-ranging essays, Katrovas examines the nature of freedom, the artist’s role in society, and the impossibility of ever really knowing someone, all with wit and wisdom. This is a wonderful collection.
– Christopher Merrill, author of The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War
Other reviews and comments
“Tough, direct, gritty, full of wonder. . .there is nothing meek about Mr. Katrovas…He sings with an authority that is guided by compassion, by an unblinking eye for what is beautiful within what is not.”
– New York Times Book Review
“Dithyrambs (is a). . .quirky, spectacular monument.”
– Sydney Lea, Georgia Review
“Originality of this kind is rare. . .large and ambitious. Katrovas’s Dithyrambs is bold and fascinating.”
– Donald Justice
“Katrovas revives the choral lyric form of Bacchylides and Pindar, and, following Dryden as the single modern precursor, bravely explores the forms possibilities for late twentieth century verse. . .(These poems) never forsake the pathos of genuine desire.”
– Carolyn Forche
“Richard Katrovas is a fine writer. . .He makes the (reader) feel gratitude, and, in addition to illumination, friendship.”
– James Dickey