“Hanácká ves,” which I translate as “A little village of Haná,” illustrates many of the themes and tropes present in many of the Silesian Songs. There is the tension between peasants and landlords, the rustics and city folk, between and amongst the Germans, Austrians, Jews, and Silesians. There is the defiance of the laborer against the monied land- or mine-owner. There is a snapshot of the culture of the region expressed in an idiom. There is the landscape and what it provides. And, too, there is the male gaze in all its gentle oppression.
– Jacob A. Bennett
Jáchym Topol is the leading Czech author of his generation. Famous in his youth as an underground poet and songwriter, today he is recognized as the writer whose work most successfully and imaginatively captures the jarring changes in society since the end of communism in 1989. The title of Anděl (“Angel Station”) refers to the bustling Prague Metro stop located in Smíchov, which was until its recent gentrification a rough, working-class neighborhood. With a cast of characters reflecting the area’s diverse residents, including Roma and Vietnamese, Topol’s novel, employing sparse, at times near-telegraphic language, weaves together the brutal and disturbing fates of an addict, a shopkeeper, and a religious fanatic as they each follow the path they hope will lead them to serenity: drugs, money, and faith. In the excerpt featured here, Butch, the addict, tries to escape his troubles in Prague by relocating to Paris with a new girlfriend.
This eccentric, grotesque, and thrilling story of a murder and a fatal connection between a man and a woman who are both drowning in the misgivings of their solitude might have happened anywhere. Its theatre setting provides a unique space for the expression of deep passions and hysteria. The theatre is a stage on which the curtains will draw for ever–for the energetic actors, the passive voyeurs, the backstage manipulators. There is no possibility of actors stepping in to play our lives. We are not acting in a one-man-show. Our past and our distress cannot be stripped off like a costume. Even the smallest “role” of one’s life should be played with the utmost conscientiousness. Visiting director Buch has only a strange suspicion that this is so, but writer and dramatist Birgit knows it very well. And those whose knowledge is so true are in the danger of being silenced.
The Brooklyn Rail welcomes you to our web-exclusive section InTranslation, where we feature unpublished translations of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and dramatic writing. Published since April 2007, InTranslation is a venue for outstanding work in translation and a resource for translators, authors, editors, and publishers seeking to collaborate.
We seek exceptional unpublished English translations from all languages.
Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry: Manuscripts of no longer than 20 pages (double-spaced).
Plays: Manuscripts of no longer than 30 pages (in left-justified format).