The Bitter Sea

Jakuba Katalpa

Jakuba Katalpa: The Bitter Sea

Original title: Hořké moře

Genre: novel


Paseka, 2008

Pages: 288


shortlisted for Jiří Orten Prize, 2009 (prestigious award for authors under 30)


I have lost all my senses, says one of the main characters at the end of the novel. But I have no fear. The novel is narrated by three women of different generations. Their fates are interlaced in the everyday, on a public and also an emotional level. Jakuba suffers from a rare disease which prevents her from remembering human faces, Marie is bound up with the house where the dead come back to life, and Aniela has succeeded - as if by magic - in bringing time to a standstill. None of the women find peace. They are strongly connected with their ancestors; through their memories the past is reawoken - as are the fates of mothers and foremothers, the eternal fates of female combatants, caregivers, hunters and hunted. Reality merges with dreams. Nothing is for certain; reality is ever-changing. It is possible to read the novel in many various ways, to be carried along by the plot or allow oneself to be inspired by the dream line. But above all it is necessary to perceive the novel as a parable, the highlighting of the archetype of woman.

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