Mark Sarvas Discusses ‘Memento Park’ - 27 East

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Mark Sarvas Discusses ‘Memento Park’

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On March 11, author Mark Sarvas, a Guild Hall artist-in-residence, leads a discussion on his novel, “Memento Park.”

On March 11, author Mark Sarvas, a Guild Hall artist-in-residence, leads a discussion on his novel, “Memento Park.”

authorStaff Writer on Mar 1, 2021

In 2016, Guild Hall’s Artist-in-Residence (GHAIR) program was created to offer artists and collectives the time and space to research, experiment and develop new ideas and projects. Artists are provided with creative mentorship and administrative support, a paid stipend, and, in a normal year, a space on the Guild Hall campus where they can live and work as well as an exhibition or performance platform. This year’s residency will be completed remotely from each artist’s home/studio due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The final showcases for the residents is taking place virtually on select dates.

The next presentation on Thursday, March 11, at 7 p.m. features author Mark Sarvas leading a discussion on his 2019 American Book Award winning novel, “Memento Park.”

After receiving an unexpected call from the Australian consulate, Matt Santos becomes aware of a painting that he believes was looted from his family in Hungary during World War II. To recover the painting, he must repair his strained relationship with his harshly judgmental father, uncover his family history, and restore his connection to his own Judaism. Along the way to illuminating the mysteries of his past, Matt is torn between his girlfriend Tracy and his attorney Rachel, with whom he travels to Budapest to unearth the truth about the painting and, in turn, his family. As his journey progresses, Matt’s revelations are accompanied by equally consuming and imaginative meditations on the painting and the painter at the center of his personal drama, “Budapest Street Scene” by Ervin Kálmán. By the time “Memento Park” reaches its conclusion, Matt’s narrative is as much about family history and father-son dynamics as it is about the nature of art itself, and the infinite ways we come to understand ourselves through it.

Of all the questions asked by Sarvas’s “Memento Park” ―about family and identity, about art and history― a central, unanswerable predicament lingers: How do we move forward when the past looms unreasonably large?

The evening, produced in partnership with BookHampton, will also feature discussions about and readings of new works/excerpts written during Sarvas’ time as a Guild House Artist-in-Residence. Copies of “Memento Park” are available for purchase at the BookHampton storefront or online. To access the program, visit

On Saturday, April 10, at 7 p.m., the third and final artist-in-residence, playwright Ryan Campbell, will share his reflections and readings of new works and excerpts written during his time at Guild Hall. A fusion of idealism and world-weariness, and the tension that arises from holding both points of view simultaneously, Campbell’s theatrical narratives are designed with the hope of creating experiences that gently confront the difficulties of life with a sense of wrecked wonder. His work has been seen on stages in New York, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Texas. The evening will be presented as a premier event on Guild Hall’s YouTube channel. Campbell will be joining live to answer questions from viewers about the work and residency.

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