Original title: Bláznův kabát
Druhé město, 2015
Martin Fahrner is living proof that an author who doesn’t produce new work continually, is dead. But he’s proof, too, that if this author writes a book that becomes part of the reader’s frame of reference, maybe he isn’t – quite. Fahrner achieved this feat in 2001, with his debut work The Invincible Seven. Three years later he followed it up with a slim work entitled The Folly of the Doctor of Winnetouology. Then he was silent for ten years.
Now Martin Fahrner is back with The Madman’s Coat, a take on Europe immediately after the fall of the Iron Curtain – a Europe that is open; a Europe where everyone must close his own gate, without a ‘brother’s’ supervision. People are wandering the continent, part-homeless, part-refugee. Yet it is not the author’s ambition to create a giant fresco of Europe containing ‘everything’ other than what matters most – a human dimension.
As in his previous works, Fahrner writes mainly about people. He likes his characters, and he cheers them on. This doesn’t mean, however, that he idealizes their lives in any way. The author, too, has his fingers crossed that they’ll find the right path. But where will the path lead? Homewards, towards the heart . . .
Perhaps no other Czech author shows such empathy for his characters in precise description of a modern world where people can do whatever they choose but rarely change anything as a result. - Ondřej Horák
"We can imagine Bláznův kabát / The Madman's Coat as a map of Europe, on part of which the author has drawn in the trajectories of several characters. The novel begins in 1980s Czechoslovakia, but most of it then takes place after the fall of the Iron Curtain, when the floodgates opened up not only at the borders between states, but also in perspectives and the opportunities to choose your own life path and strategy. So for example the originally strongly unconventional Šárka shifts gear to become a respectable bourgeois professional, because (to retain the vocabulary of the novel) she found Radek had worn the madman's coat too much."
Josef Chuchma, Lidové noviny