Racz has come to Bratislava to make money so that he can be a suitable suitor for the woman from his village he loves. He gets work as the stoker in the Hotel Ambassador, one of the most prestigious hotels in Bratislava, and in his single-mindedness soon discovers that he can take advantage of his position. People will pay to have the heat on and, in short, Racz learns that he who puts the heat on can control things. He rises quickly from stoker in the Ambassador to its owner and much else. Those who oppose him (small-time money changers, former secret police, professional classes) knuckle under while those whose dreams have foundered in the new world order have to make do or become, like academics, increasingly irrelevant. Peter Pišt'anek’s reputation is assured by Rivers of Babylon and by its hero, the most mesmerizing character of Slovak literature, Rácz, an idiot of genius, a psychopathic gangster. Rácz and Rivers of Babylon tell the story of a Central Europe, where criminals, intellectuals and ex-secret policemen have infiltrated a new ‘democracy’. Slovak readers acknowledge Peter Pišt'anek as their most flamboyant and fearless writer, stripping the nation of its myths and false self-esteem. The novel has been translated by Peter Petro of British Columbia University, in close collaboration with author and publisher. Book is in very good.