Ann C. Colley – The Odyssey and Dr. Novak: A Memoir

A fascinating eencounter one summer afternoon...

Ann C. Colley's memoir, The Odyssey and Dr. Novak, is a fascinating glimpse of the past -- from her childhood meeting with a man from Czechoslovakia named Dr. Novak to the years she spent teaching at universities in Poland and Ukraine.

In The Odyssey and Dr. Novak, Colley records personal experiences, interactions with colleagues, and descriptions of the landscape, creating a composite portrait of these countries at a time when each is struggling to chart its course after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. She recalls moments that are disturbing, absurd, discordant, frustrating, humorous, and endearing—a missing parrot flying in through the window; a robber on a train threatening her life; clouds of smoke from Chernobyl hanging over Kiev.

Colley’s journey ends with her return to the figure of Dr. Novak when she searches in the archives of the Harvard Divinity School Library for letters sent from Prague in 1945—letters which, just like her memoir, speak of a past that pursues the present.

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