Waiting for the Trigger

Lidmila Kábrtová

Lidmila Kábrtová: Waiting for the Trigger

Original title: Čekání na spoušť

Genre: novel


Host, 2021

ISBN: 978-80-275-0741-2

Pages: 199

Rights sold to:

Macedonia (Slavika Libris)


A novel in eight stories about bad decisions, misunderstandings and hope


Zuzana travels to the sea to erase a terrifying dream. Jitka is ashamed of her flabby belly and won’t be compared with anyone. When out driving, Hana happens across her grandmother. Having found peace at work in the woods, Pavel hopes he won’t make any more mistakes. Iveta dresses the dead and hides her snake tattoo. And all Libor does is take photographs… These people belong together – in a way, they are family; yet they keep missing each other.

To enjoy life, we need to find meaning in the everyday – not just through spiritual fulfilment and liberation, but also when faced with stultifying banality; with those close to us and whom we love, and also with those who have wronged us. The problem is, experiences, emotions, gestures and utterances often pass each other by; where there might be understanding, there is grievance, blankness and pain. But every such missed encounter invites us to seek out empathy, perhaps even forgiveness.    

Set over a period of seventy years, Lidmila Kábrtová’s novel of interconnected stories chronicles such missed encounters. It shows in minute detail how a person’s seemingly insignificant decisions can affect the lives of others, and how an inconspicuous event can affect someone apparently unconnected with it. Each protagonist of Waiting for the Trigger tells her/his own story while trying to make sense of it. Although one person’s loss may be another person’s gain, it is never too late for (self-)acceptance and (self-)forgiveness.   


"The heroes of these stories, not least the women, bear their fates bravely, with a degree of acceptance and understanding, and with some self-sacrifice – as though they believe that the little peace and happiness that they would have liked for themselves will appear somewhere down the family line. Lidmila Kábrtová’s absorbing, honest book delights the reader with images painted in words and the feeling that its stories are actually about us."

Alena Mornštajnová, writer


"We read a masterfully told story packed with emotion and set in period realia. (…)

Kábrtová has come up with a really strong story set from some time in the 1950s to the present day."

Aleš Palán, Aktuálně


"Kábrtová works like Jan Balabán used to with human fortunes broken down to the bare bones. In doing so, she perfectly masters the art of weaving a purifying, redemptive outcome into the little-understood tragedies of her protagonists through unremarkable events -- accidentally found letters, a fleeting personal encounter or a brief glimpse of the sun low over the horizon that resonates with the memory of a loved one.

If you are looking for a contemporary Czech novelist who gives their characters some eschatological hope then it is Kábrtová.  (…) Even in the most messed-up life and even if we often think we are incapable of it, a transformation can take place through forgiveness towards others and ourselves."

Hana Svanovská, Katolický týdeník


"Lidmila Kábrtová's books are worth waiting for, as each of them offers something different. (...) This is a challenging book to read, but you can choose a simpler way and see it as a collection of short stories. Even in that case it is possible to enjoy it, though I recommend paying greater attention to the text, because then other nodes of interaction over the fortunes of the characters in Waiting for the Trigger will come to light."

Jiří Lojín, Vaše literatura


"Lidmila Kábrtová's works will probably never disappoint me. This year's Waiting for the Trigger literally enchanted me. Minimalistic as always, yet relentless and precise. A masterful fusion of the life stories and traumas that everyone collects in life, though she also leaves it up to the reader just how deeply her story is to penetrate."
Iveta Coufalová, historian, Editor-in-Chief of the Dějiny a současnost (History and the Present Day) journal, Lidové noviny Book of the Year poll


"Perfect prose, well thought out to the last detail."
Markéta Hejkalová, Book Fair Director,  Lidové noviny Book of the Year poll


"I was particularly pleased with Lidmila Kábrtová's interlinked collection of short stories Waiting for the Trigger, a kind of guide to everyday lives during the latter half of the 20th century."

Martin Nodl, historian, university professor, editor, Lidové noviny Book of the Year poll


"Lidmila Kábrtová is already well-known to Czech readers. Or at least to those readers who prefer more challenging literature, the kind that does not serve anything up on a golden platter, leaves many questions unanswered and above all provides open-ended stories that carry on even though we have turned the last page of the book. For Lidmila Kábrtová's books are just that. (...) (The author) is now stirring the souls of her readers with her excellent short story-novel Waiting for the Trigger.

(...) Waiting for the Trigger is in every respect a powerful, sensitive and, in many ways, poignant book about ordinary people who could be your neighbours, who may even tell your story, the story of your family. Moreover, Kábrtová totally preserves the humanity of all her characters, she does not put anyone in the role of a victim, no one is just evil or just a hero, which is no longer very common in contemporary literature. She does not put anyone on a pedestal; she does not judge anyone.

In fewer than two hundred pages, she plays a complex game of chess with human fortunes, composing a colourful mosaic of stories and leaving both the reader and the protagonists of the book in doubt as to how things will actually turn out for them. Someone may be forgiven, someone may get a chance to make up for past mistakes, someone may not learn and continue to think they always did the right thing."

Wendy Šimotová, Kulturne.com


"Waiting for the Trigger will shake you up. The form is similar to that of the interlinked short stories in the previous book, but Kábrtová’s is more fleshed out, it grabs you and doesn't let go until the end, reverberates for a long time, settles in your stomach, and you have to think about the stories of the wounded long after you've finished.


The protagonists are linked by family ties, the mistakes of one spilling over into the motivations of the other. Psychologists call this generational trauma; here it unfolds in a seamless narrative through grandmothers, deserting mothers and abandoned children, and it catches up with everyone. Waiting for the Trigger is characterized by one word: kindness. We never know how the other person would tell the story. Every act has its roots, and even the last renegade deserves understanding and forgiveness. Kábrtová has grown incredibly as a writer. I'm now impatiently awaiting her fourth book!"

Klára Kubíčková, Vlasta


"Lidmila Kábrtová has managed to do one very important thing in this book -- to create the illusion that the problems her characters are dealing with in the individual stories are trivial, and then to dispel this illusion in the very next pages.


Thanks to all these well-established topoi and properly functioning narrative techniques, Lidmila Kábrtová's short story novel can compete with Michal Viewegh’s  better prose works and Petr Šabach’s short stories."

Olga Pavlova, A2


"Another strong point in the author's poetics is her ability to under-narrate: to make functional use of a procedure in which certain things, events and causalities are hinted at, but remain not wholly said and open-ended..."

Pavel Janoušek, Host

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