To the Interior

Vladimíra Valová

Vladimíra Valová: To the Interior

Original title: Do vnitrozemí

Genre: short stories


Host 2017

ISBN: 978-80-7577-191-9

Pages: 200


shortlisted for Magnesia Litera for Prose and Czech Book Award

Foreign editions:

German (selected stories – Větrné mlýny/Wieser Verlag, 2019, Christina Frankenberg)


Collection of sharp‑edged prose pieces.


No one pretends here; if they did, the game would be up. This world is not a cheerful one, but nor is it hopeless; the main thing is, it is our world.

One of thousands of moments when we step off the conveyor belt of life: switch off our phone (everyone can get stuffed), fail to turn up for work for no good reason, get drunk with a stranger for the hell of it, offer shelter to a down‑and‑out, kick corn poppies to kingdom come. At these times, life opens wide to reveal a path, an abyss or a path to the bottom of an abyss. Our heroes know that only they can determine how much life they grab for themselves. Their closest associate is solitude, though they know that its accompanying silence can be lethal. They must cry out in the hope that the answer they get will be more than a mere echo.

First‑time writer Vladimíra Valová has delivered short stories reminiscent in mood of the work of Jan Balabán.



"The short stories of Vladimíra Valová are like animals that are all muscle and sinew; beneath the smooth coat, there is not an ounce of surplus fat. And these small‑eyed animals lie in wait for the slightest movement within us."

Jan Němec, writer

"Valová has distilled her material into stories that are powerful and deeply personal. She expresses herself with concision, leaving no padding on the frame of the stories; yet there is nothing dry about them. She makes her writing special with a fresh metaphor, a poetic turn of phrase and a vivid description of a scene.

[…] The atmosphere of the contemplative stories is often heavy, although ultimately not hopeless. Silence is an important motif. […] Time is given an emphasis of similar weight. Most stories are played out over one or a few days. For us to discover more about the pasts and personalities of the characters, Valová makes do with a few well-chosen sentences to produce a retrospective that is all the more potent for its brevity.    

The design of the book, too, is worthy of note. The black-and-white jacket by typographer Lucie Zajíčková presents the reader with multiple circular motifs – a shell, a target, a labyrinth and a round battery. These reflect the wit of the contents, in which the names of chapters are scattered randomly across the page along with photographed subjects that have something to do with the plot of the story. Again, everything is circular in shape.

This geometric pattern, considered in many cultures to symbolize the cycle of life, evokes a possible path to the centre, the core of the matter, rebirth … As in a labyrinth, one may lose one’s way on this path, but one may also reach one’s goal. This is the very path taken by the characters of To the Interior. "   

Petra Smítalová, Lidové noviny

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