Things Whose Time Has Come

Petra Soukupová

Petra Soukupová: Things Whose Time Has Come

Original title: Věci, na které nastal čas


Genre: novel


Publisher:

Host, 2020


ISBN: 978-80-275-0390-2


Pages: 368


Rights sold to:

Macedonia (Slavika Libris), Poland (Afera), Germany (Mittledeutscher Verlag), Italy (Miraggi Edizioni)

Summary


Life can’t be planned, or even prepared for… Again, Petra Soukupová has put the everyday life of a family under the microscope.

 

Alice and Richard have been living together for fifteen years. Theirs was maybe never a great love, or, if it was, maybe this love has been extinguished by the humdrum everyday. In any case, they should stay together for their two children, Charlie and Lola. Now twelve, Charlie is starting to have more than he can take of his parents. Lola, ten, wants nothing in the world more than a dog. With everything muffled by the soft blanket of routine, nothing terrible happens to anyone. You wouldn’t call it happiness, but you can live with it.

But then Richard falls in love – deeply and passionately. It seems to him that he has never known anything like it; then again, he may be going through a midlife crisis. Alice doesn’t much care one way or the other. But all certainties are blown, and Charlie and Lola must think a thought no child likes to think. Is Richard going to leave them? Whatever happens, nothing will be as it was.


Reviews

"Soukupová has never veered from the style and themes of her first book To the Sea / K moři. Her linear plots develop in quick, precise strokes, with a wealth of direct speech. The child and adult figures she places in family settings are fully vivid, for she is a fine and sensitive psychologist. And she is well able to bring her packed storylines to a fateful outcome. […]  

From the moment the family unit is penetrated by an outsider – the husband’s lover – the story is shrouded in tension and anxiety. Soukupová’s anamnesis of disintegration is brilliantly handled, as is the portrayal of those rendered most vulnerable by it – children on the brink of puberty."  

Radim Kopáč, MF DNES

 

"Gloom without catharsis, by a writer of the highest quality. […] The latest novel by this discerning author has at its centre not one or both parents, but their children. I thought of Stendhal’s Charterhouse of Parma turned on its head. The children power the plot… All in all, an excellent book with an exquisite aim and a brilliant narrative." 

Zdeněk Svoboda, Krajské listy

 

"In classic Petra Soukupová fashion, the characters are busy with their thoughts even when they do not voice them. Everything of importance goes on in their heads, in unspoken sentences of a heavy, painful silence. […] That Soukupová is one of the most successful writers in Czech today is due largely to her remarkable style, which is characterized by simple sentences comprising simple words. […] Soukupová does not write about events of the kind we preserve in photo albums; in her work, weddings and births are of little moment. The important things take place over supper in the kitchen, in the gloom of the parents’ bedroom and in the dark of the children’s room."

Denisa Ballová, DenníkN.sk

 

"Soukupová is an outstanding observer who picks up on details. Through changes of perspective, she shows us different perceptions among members of one family. Because of the ubiquitous stereotype, we could be forgiven for approaching this as we would a familiar story about the disintegration of a marriage. But the main characters here are not Alice and Richard. The child characters are especially well written; the authentic presentation of their point of view – one often overlooked in the midst of a marital crisis – never fails to convince. The children’s perception of the situation stands in sharp contrast with our common idea of how a relationship between two people comes to an end.    

[…] The author sticks to the style and subject matter she established for herself some years ago. We should favour the drama of the everyday over more shocking forms of contemporary literature for a very simple reason: an important function of fiction is enhancement of our ability to empathize, so enabling us to view the world from different points of view. In these opinionated times, when refusal to communicate with others is common and effort to understand them is scarce, books such as Petra Soukupová’s address an urgent need."

Patrícia Šišková, Literárne noviny

 

„Dialogues that leap from the page, a minimum of description, stories that reflect the grim lives of couples and their children today without adornment – these things have made Petra Soukupová one of the best-selling Czech writers. All are present in her new novel Things Whose Time Has Come." 

Tomáš Maca, Aktuálně.cz

 

"Soukupová’s work is characterized by extraordinary empathy and precision. Her stories do not surprise; they show the everyday, and events within it that are not interesting in themselves. Ordinary days in ordinary families. Yet perhaps by their very ordinariness these moments in the lives of the book’s heroes serve to fully engage the reader. What happens here could happen to any of us. The elegant, low-key depiction of reality suggests that our point of view on a situation is what matters. The misunderstandings caused by failure to connect verge on inconsiderateness, even selfishness. […] The author has captured brilliantly the thoughts of a moody, unsatisfied, abandoned wife, a teenage boy and, as the story develops, a prepubescent girl who still plays with dolls and loves to comb the rainbow manes of little toy ponies. […] The point of view of each member of the household is presented very well. […] Soukupová is a splendid storyteller with an admirable grasp of interpersonal relationships. But the magic of her books resides above all in their depiction of intimacy, immediacy and tedium which allows for no prevarication or adornment.”

Valentýna Odřejová, Artikl

 

"With great elegance and no room for ostentation, [the author] diagnoses the sickness in a relationship. […] What surprised me most in the writing was the intimacy and immediacy, together with the absence of embellishment and descriptiveness. Soukupová presents the experiences and thoughts of her characters with surgical precision. […] In Things Whose Time Has Come, her latest novel, she again alternates between characters’ points of view. The showing of the same moments from different perspectives serves to emphasize misunderstanding, failure to connect, lack of consideration and selfishness. […] Things gives further confirmation to the assertion that Soukupová is in step with today’s realities. Indeed, the author shows just how much today’s two-way relationships are marked by selfishness." 

Jonáš Zbořil, Hana Řičicová, Český rozhlas, Radio Wave, Liberatura

 

"The perfect diagnosis for what goes on in our marriages. (...) Things Whose Time Has Come, the new novel by Petra Soukupová, is rightly being spoken of in superlatives. What makes it so good? First and foremost, as is customary with this author, the oppressiveness of relationships is captured with brilliance and remarkable realism in snatches of narrative and dialogue showing characters whose emotions are in opposition. […] Such is the level of authenticity of the husband-wife exchanges that married readers could be forgiven for thinking Soukupová has taken up occupancy under their bed to record their marital squabbles. But the virtuosity does not end there: when the viewpoints of the two adults are joined by those of their children Kája and Lola, the family mosaic is completed to tragic perfection."

Klára Kubíčková, Vlasta

 

"Few contemporary Czech writers can tell a story about family relationships to such vivid and engaging effect as Petra Soukupová. Although the ingredients of her new novel Things Whose Time Has Come will be familiar to most readers, this does nothing to detract from its readability. As our protagonist Alice, a food stylist, knows, the success of a recipe is in the cooking and serving.  

[…] Once again, this author, who is closer to the tradition of psychological fiction than to social themes, has made do with a lightly drawn setting. As a result, the family drama plays out in something of a cultural and political vacuum. Yet the four central characters […] and the problematic relations among them are anything but light.

Once again, Petra Soukupová shows herself to be a fine reader of the human heart, be it male or female. She is able to convey her heroes’ most complicated feelings with a minimum of dialogue.

[…] Some will find this brutally truthful picture of a contemporary family liberating; others will find it depressing. As the case may be, it gives the reader ample space in which to think about their own life.

[…] With her new novel, Petra Soukupová shows us again how hardships of family life can be written about with a light touch. It also shows us that in her chosen field she is without equal on the Czech literary scene."

Petr Nagy, Deník N

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