Original title: Sítě
Serbian (Besani, 2023, Alexandra Cimpl Simeonović)
Three stories about how low self-esteem affects our lives.
You determine the extent of the threat you’re under – it all depends on how much you believe in yourself. Wherever there’s someone with low self-esteem, there’s a manipulator close at hand, wondering how he can take advantage at the other’s expense.
Kristýna and her young son have at last settled down in a relationship, with wealthy, charismatic Jáchym. The only problem is, Kristýna ‘doesn’t believe in herself much’. She starts to go to a psychotherapist, and these visits soon lead her to a dramatic realization.
While she is expecting her fourth child, Karolína finally owns up to the fact that she is repeating her mother’s hated mistakes. Her desire to break free of the influence of her religious fanatic husband, who rejects contraception out of hand, prompts her to approach the elderly Father Ambrož. But will she succeed in breaking out of the vicious circle?
If her breasts were just a little bit bigger, her life would be so much better. Although Naďa is a nurse and frequently encounters true suffering and death, this does nothing to lessen her desire for personal perfection. Gradually she becomes a trusted but cynical businesswoman. Behind the narrative is the controversial theme of trade with banked umbilical cord blood.
It doesn’t matter whether you are inside or outside the net – the angling has begun!
Every guy wants big breasts. Every guy. That’s the clincher, as far as I’m concerned.
Do I not want to be cured? Do I not want to be freed of my injuries? How am I supposed to answer these questions? Apparently it’s far more difficult to resist harm by means of so-called good than so-called evil.
Suddenly you’re on your own. You’re in a net that has dragged you in, like an easy catch. Trust no one but yourself – even if you’ve doubted yourself till now. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself in an unbreathable space, and you’ll suffocate.
It is obviously not really a reviewer's ideal approach to say right at the outset that Petra Dvořáková's book is excellent, and yet I am unable to begin any other way. Petra Dvořáková is convincing from the first letter to the last. Her book Sítě / The Net brought me onto her side as a reader straight away. (…)
Dvořáková's latest book The Net under review is about the traps that catch, bind and harm. The net (or network) is a metaphor and at the same time a consequence of the chief protagonists' missing self-confidence. Indeed it is also lacking in the secondary protagonists, who are seemingly just filling out the story's space. In her book, Dvořáková warns: watch out for your partner, priest, psychopath, friend, parent and in particular yourself. (…)
The author provides surgically precise images of situations in which dialogues between people so very similar to ourselves can be heard. This book is not full of women's pitiful self-revelations, counter-productive revisits of the past and endless dissections of the characters' psyches. Dvořáková seemingly illuminates reality with a spotlight that is just as relentless as reality often is.
Silvia Kaščáková, Ostium
Dvořáková is an outstanding observer and has created three realistic, believable and well-researched mini-studies.
Lucie Zelinková, Právo
It is not easy to find artistically attractive "real-life" topics from our everyday existence in contemporary Czech literature. Dvořáková demonstrates here that she is one of those creative writers whose work is well worth checking out.
She touches upon the very marrow of being, and does not avoid such painful and controversial issues as leaving a religious community, without selling out. Her protagonists' struggles for the emancipation of themselves and their children testify to a profound knowledge of a reality that she does not only perceive through the eyes of her own experience.
She is able to see further and deeper, because she does not only observe superficial phenomena, but also individuals and their realities in their more complex contexts, including the intellectual backdrop that often decides their priorities and future steps.
František Cinger, Právo
Dvořáková is an excellent observer, who is able to do justice to contemporary women's issues (amongst many others) while turning them into engrossing fiction. And although low self-esteem might appear to be a banal issue, it affects a large proportion of the population, and the author shows just how deeply it can affect human life.
Martina Siwek Macáková, Iliteratura