"Notes from Underground," by Roger Scruton takes place in Prague circa 1985. Its protagonist, like several other main characters in the story, goes by several names, but I'll refer to him as Jan for simplicity's sake. After her husband's death, Jan's mother begins to run an underground press, which publishes samizdats, including a volume of her son's. Because samizdat, like fan fiction, is published by anyone who fancies themselves an author, it receives little respect from the outside world, but also attracts the attention of the authorities, who one day show up and arrest Jan's mother. Though Jan is pessimistic about his chances of having the charges dropped against her, he attempts to find help. When he meets the beautiful, fiercely independent Betka, who reveals only parts of her past, he begins an affair with her, and also joins a sort of underground book club, attended by intellectuals. Jan's new associates include Father Pavel, a priest who has some rather Nietzschean ideas about faith, as well as Martin Gunther, a liberal American intellectual, whose abstract notions about victimhood and oppression quickly arose Jan's scorn.
Aware that his intervention to help his mother, as well as his association with the club members has put him under scrutiny by those with the power to arrest him, Jan continues to explore the new ideas he learns of, and deepen his relationship with Betka, even as he suspects it might be doomed. Because, early on, we learn that Jan is relating this story from the US, we know that he will ultimately survive, but it seems likely that, like the protagonist of Orwell's "1984," he will be subjected to much unpleasantness before he finds refuge.
The book explores the theme of freedom and how lack of faith can trap a person. While living in a world where censorship is common, there is still a "beautiful defiance," in those who join together to fight it. It's also about nostalgia - when Jan escapes to what he believes will be a better place, his older self still finds things to miss and even mourn for. As he acidly puts it, "The slaves had been liberated and turned into morons." Ultimately, it is both words and love that transformed Jan, and he realizes that without both, the story would never have happened.,