Set in Prague and narrated with great panache by the 600-year-old Charles Bridge, this novel begins with an elephant named Sál escaping the Prague Zoo. As the elephant moves through the beautiful Czech city, the lives of the men and women she meets are altered by the encounter. Each character is at a crossroads, and desperately seeking the wisdom they need to wrestle with profound questions—how to live, how to love, who to love, how to heal. And the elephant herself is haunted, as mem¬ories of her long-ago capture in Africa resurface.
Sál carries the narrative from one point of view to another: Vasha, a writer and night watchman at the zoo, and his wife Marta, a psychotherapist, confront the question of whether to have a child; Šárka, Marta’s patient and a dancer at the end of her career, is visited by a charming and often abrasive manifestation of the long-dead ballerina Anna Pavlova; Joseph, a clown and bouffon, performs on the Karlův Bridge itself, and he is about to be struck down (literally and figuratively) by a new love…
Through it all, Sál steals the show, wandering the streets in search of water and food, bearing her own share of sadness and painful memories as she struggles to find her way out of her bewildering predicament. Though she, like the humans she encounters, is free now to make her own choices, she is also displaced and lost.
Thomas Trofimuk’s novel masterfully convinces us to accept all the wonders contained in it: that a bridge can tell a story, that art is integral to our survival, that an elephant can scatter sudden flashes of insight in her wake, that there is no separation between the grief of elephants and the grief of humans.
About the Author
Thomas Trofimuk’s first novel, The 52nd Poem, won the George Bugnet Novel of the Year Award and the City of Edmonton Book Prize at the 2003 Alberta Book Awards. His second novel, Doubting Yourself to the Bone, was named as one of the Globe and Mail’s top 100 must-read books for 2006. Waiting for Columbus was published in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Serbia, Poland, Brazil, China, and Quebec (in translation). Waiting for Columbus won the City of Edmonton Book Prize, was a nominee for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for fall 2010, and was one of Richard and Judy’s 100 Books. A fourth novel, This is All a Lie, was released in fall 2017. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
“The wandering narrative buoyed by humour while it tackles human peccadilloes and societal caprices has been with us since Cervantes and Laurence Sterne. Trofimuk brings his own skill and unique voice to this strand. Funny, candid, improvisational, historically anecdotal, sexy… it’s a heady mix.” — Glen Huser, Alberta Views
“Thoughtful, artful, playful . . . Thomas Trofimuk’s latest novel, The Elephant on Karluv Bridge, is an absorbing literary puzzle and truly a delight to encounter.”
—Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This. Read the full review here.
“The elephant’s journey is a narrative thread from which Trofimuk spins a web of interconnected stories that involve a cast of characters who are related to one another in ways that are both arbitrary and deeply significant . . . each character is mired in loss and emotional turmoil and their unique stories of suffering are in themselves a worthwhile exploration of loneliness, desire, and the creation of meaning in a chaotic world.”
—Alexandra Trnka, Quill & Quire
2023 Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction (Alberta Literary Awards)
2023 Publishing Award* (Saskatchewan Book Awards)
*Thistledown Press nominated