Original title: Pod sněhem
Polish (Afera, 2016), Slovenian (Društvo Mohorjeva Družba, 2017), Bulgarian (Alja, 2019)
A seemingly common situation: one winter day three sisters get into a car and head for their parents’ place, where they will celebrate their father’s birthday. Blanka and her two daughters, a baby and a dog, Olina, her son and an iPad, Kristýna with a hangover. In the overfilled car too are their life stories, memories of childhood, unfulfilled dreams and frustrations; only a few miles into the drive the atmosphere grows tense. And at this stage the sisters are unaware that more unpleasantness awaits them at their parents’ home.
In details of family relationships and ostensibly ordinary events Soukupová succeeds in capturing imprints of life’s complications with such brilliance that the reader relates to them as unique dramas. The naturally effortless narrative style, which is typical of this author, serves to underscore the story’s authenticity, engaging the reader to such a degree that he/she becomes a passenger in the car as it passes through the winter landscape.
"Petra Soukupová shows her strengths in this her latest prose work, writing about relations in a precise and masterly fashion."
Ľubomír Jaško, SME
"Dialogues, monologues and detailed descriptions of the most banal situations provide sophisticated psychological profiles of the characters.
Family relations are Petra Soukupová's thematic domain. She is able to write authentically, vividly and without pathos about them with the persuasiveness of a documentary."
Jindřich Göth, Instinkt
"In this her fourth prose work Under the Snow / Pod sněhem, Petra Soukupová perfects her here-and-now method of accumulating thoughts, feelings and moods to capture reality and deny time.
Under the Snow / Pod sněhem is a psychological family drama that gets by without pathology and spectacular action. The protagonists and their fortunes are by no means exceptional, but actually quite ordinary.
Here Soukupová's latest work is just as impressive as her previous ones, as is the magnetism of her writing and simultaneously its masochism. It is not difficult to identify with her vision of the family microworld, but it is difficult to find any hope in it."
Kateřina Čopjaková, Respekt
"In just a few sentences (the author) manages to credibly sketch out a complex internal state, without lapsing into sentiment or cliché. Her greatest strength then is her ability to describe her protagonists' ordinary day in such a way that we are able to make out snatches of stories, precisely and sensitively delineated, within the confused chaos of thoughts and memories.
The author's fans will get precisely what they are used to."
Klára Kolářová, Právo
"Petra Soukupová writes sad books. They are full of misunderstandings, real and imagined grievances, quarrels and unwillingness to understand others. The dismal impression from reading them is exacerbated by the fact that the author moves exclusively within the field of family relations, i.e. the most confidential and at the same time the most fragile relations. In the context of contemporary Czech literature, however, these are also unique books.
The rapid-fire alternation of the dialogue and the concentration of the plot make the text so rich that it is difficult to put down.
Soukupová focuses exclusively on presenting what the characters are actually experiencing and thinking. She thus entirely gives up any effort to utilize some literary device to provide an exposition, reflection or view from a different angle or detached standpoint. The effect of this method is unprecedented – the text is not read but experienced.
In Under the Snow / Pod sněhem Petra Soukupová has managed to make much out of little. Within a trimmed-down space she has not only created the woven texture of three or four women's lives, but also a drama of human everyday existence drowned in teacup storms, cheeseburgers, selfishness and miscomprehension. It is a world that is oppressive and suffocating on itself – but formed in a fascinating way."
Markéta Kittlová, iliteratura
"Following her successful debut To the Sea / K moři and her even better collection of short stories To Disappear / Zmizet, which was awarded the Magnesia Litera prize, Soukupová has found her public, who already know that her writings are as bitter as olives, but when they eventually become an acquired taste they are difficult to put down."
Magdalena Čechlovská, Hospodářské noviny
"In short, deftly constructed and neatly climaxing chapters, Petra Soukupová's fifth consecutive book, the novel Under the Snow / Pod sněhem depicts childhood and the family in a credible and readable way as a source of lifelong inferiority complexes and discomfort (how very well we all know that!), while presenting the mutual incomprehension of the generations and the battle of the sexes in the characters' dialogues and internal monologues, as well as the impossibility of mutual comprehension and understanding (despite the many words spoken) among characters who live together, share the same genetic make-up and memories, and yet are so alien to each other.
Thirty-three-year-old Petra Soukupová is a past master at the discipline of portraying family microdramas and presenting character descriptions, emotional ties and psychological assessments."
Kateřina Kadlecová, Reflex
"Petra Soukupová is outstanding when it comes to capturing the everyday.
The novel Under the Snow / Pod sněhem is an ongoing continuation of Petra Soukupová's work, confirming that she is a distinctive writer and that she manages to write comprehensibly about serious matters with psychologically precise perception."
Pavel Portl, H70
"Soukupová has found her great theme and authorial style, and as readers of her latest book can attest, she manages to combine both in an exceptionally enthralling text.
In her latest book Petra Soukupová shows how very easy it is for her to write about the difficulties of family life."
Petr Nagy, Magazín Aktuálně.cz