The Žítková Goddesses

Kateřina Tučková

Kateřina Tučková: The Žítková Goddesses

Original title: Žítkovské bohyně


Genre: novel


Publisher:

Host 2012, 2013


ISBN: 978-80-7294-528-3


Pages: 456


Awards:

Josef Škvorecký Prize 2012, Czech Bestseller Prize 2012, Magnesia Litera 2013 - Readers' award; Czech Book Award 2013 - Readers' Award


Foreign editions:

Ukrainian (Komora, 2014), Polish (Afera, 2014), Macedonian (Kultura, 2015), Romanian (Curtea Veche, 2015), Slovenian (Sanje, 2015), German (DVA, 2015), Slovakian (Tatran, 2015), Belarussian (Lohvino, 2015), Croatian (Fraktura, 2016), Hungarian (Kalligram, 2016), Bulgarian (Paradox, 2016), Serbian (Babun, 2016), Arabian (Sefsafa, Egypt, 2017), Italian (Keller Editore, 2017)


Rights sold to:

UK - English World Rights (Jantar Publishing)

Summary


A fascinating tale of the female soul, magic and a part of Czech history kept hidden.

In the heights of the White Carpathians, dotted sparsely across the hills, there are a number of crouched buildings. Everything is far away, which is why, so they say, certain women there have succeeded in preserving knowledge and intuition the rest of us have lost, which they have passed from generation to generation for centuries. They are known as goddesses, because they are able to connect with God and ask for His help. And His interventions do help a little ... It is said of the goddesses that they see the future. So why haven’t they saved their own?

Dora Idesová is the last of the goddesses. She is reluctant to accept an outdated way of life and to read in drips of wax the futures of those who come to her, as her aunt Surmena did. But everything changes once she understands that personal circumstances she has always considered unhappy – being sent to a boarding school, Jakoubek’s institutional care, hospitalization an asylum in Kroměříž – is part of a carefully thought-out plan. It is the late 1990s, and in the archives of the Ministry of the Interior in Pardubice there is a file awaiting discovery – a file compiled by the State Security police on an enemy of the state, her aunt Surmena. A disbelieving Dora untangles details of the previously unknown fates of her family and other goddesses ...

Were the goddesses a danger to incredulous patients? Were they a genuine ideological threat to society in the years of Normalization? Or was the eradication of the last relics of paganism the work of common human envy and spite?

The theatre adaptation was premiered in March 2014 (Městské divadlo Zlín) with huge success, performances have been sold out from now on; another theatre adaptation premiered in May 2017 (Městské Divadlo Brno).

Audiobook was released in October 2012 (ADK Prague/Host).


Reviews

"On the backdrop of a world, in which time seems to come to a stop, the author depicts the fortunes of several generations of simple countrywomen endowed with extraordinary healing and psychic abilities, the Goddesses of Žítková. And it is a fascinating narration. A novel on a great women’s topic of faith in natural forces and incantation, a healing power of hope, but also of solitude, despair, cruelty and vengefulness. (...)
The Žítková Goddesses is among the most interesting books that have grown up in the Czech Republic on the field of novel in recent years. (...)"  
Veronika Jurčová, kultura21.cz 

"She enriched contemporary historical prose with her precise work." 
Michaela Keroušová, Hospodářské noviny  

"Release of the new novel The Žítková Goddesses (Host 2012) had been announced as a literary event. And, to begin with, we can state that this expectation has been successfully met. (...)
The story is masterfully composed, containing several stylistic planes that gradually become entwined in a single great picture. It shows us that lives do not need to be mundane, and a seemingly ordinary environment may hide great stories. I cannot remember when I last read a story with such a strong motif of realized vengeance in Czech literature. (...)
The original theme of the novel can be regarded as clearly positive. It had been waiting to be approached in a grand manner, having been only captured in ethnographic and regional literature. The author managed to recast extensive historic and folklore material into a remarkable novel. A strong story and vivid language full of images ask to be made into a movie. (...) we are presented with a novel which is a Czech literary event."  
Pavel Kotrla, Týdeník Rozhlas

"The Žítková Goddesses can be read as a book about an extinct folk tradition, as a polemic between a purely scientific world view and that stemming from understanding of nature and human soul. Or as a kind of folk murder tale revealing how hatred can survive in a warped mind for decades and destroy even those who have no idea of the original injustice. Or saying that a clearly lined life does not exist, that a chance always comes into play. Or a curse?
The Žítková Goddesses are a classical and fascinating narration whose rhythm is beneficially broken by quotations from archive materials or secret police records, always carefully linguistically characterized. (...) A remarkable novel."  
Kryštof Špidla, Český rozhlas

"A few really interesting books have been published recently. One of them is the novel The Žítková Goddesses by Kateřina Tučková, my clear candidate for the book of the year."  
Kateřina Kadlecová, Reflex

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