Original title: Konec dobrý
Genre: short stories
Druhé město, 2021
shortlisted for Magnesia Litera in the Prose category 2022
The 1968 Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, the funeral of Václav Havel, and the Covid-ridden present provide a rainbow-like historical backdrop for these nine intimate, grotesque, melancholy short stories. Although life often resembles farce, just occasionally a flash of something transcendental lights up the narrative. But is it truly there? For how could it be if “we dreamed it all, and nothing will remain but the dream”?
"The short stories by Irena Dousková (…) from her latest collection All’s Well, in the End straddle our dismal past and our similarly dismal (in a sense) present. Their protagonists are now looking at life from a broader perspective, taking stock, evaluating the events they have lived through and are living through, be it politics, the coronavirus pandemic or their own aging and the passing of loved ones.
This often brings disappointed hopes and unfulfilled expectations to the surface, as well as futility and fatigue. The heroes of these everyday tales could be our neighbours across the street or our friends from work, the people around us."
Dominik Mačas, Czech Radio
"Irena Dousková’s collection All’s Well, in the End presents a finely drawn picture of the last few years, reminding us of the changes that have taken place, while giving us the opportunity to observe what has remained the same and is likely to remain so. It is a book to be pondered over and read very carefully."
Jiří Lojín, Vaše literatura
"This latest book of short stories, entitled All’s Well, in the End (...), shows how good an author she is: nine stories, sometimes more like sketches, demonstrate her ability to characterize her protagonists through punchy dialogue, to lay on the atmosphere over almost photographic landscape scenes, and to colour them in with details that only she notices, but which everyone can recall from memory when she describes them."
Klára Kubíčková, Vlasta
"This short-story collection (...) highlights the author’s mature storytelling talent and her broad range of characters, themes and styles."
Peter Nagy, Czech Radio
"Irena Dousková (born 1964) is known to the general public primarily as the author of a novel about children’s perception of Normalisation, B. Proudew / Hrdý Budžes. The nine short stories in All’s Well, in the End take place over a broad timeframe from 1968 to the present day. The exception is the short story entitled Landscape with Black Forest / Krajina s černým lesem, in which the contemporary plot, involving a German writer Joseph arriving in Český Krumlov, is intertwined with the story of the painter Egon Schiele. History writ large and the great themes of the present are projected in these stories into the everyday life of “ordinary” people, and this life is often difficult, weary, awkward day-to-day life, full of problems in relationships, existential worries and missed opportunities... The great strength of these stories is that serious themes are presented with deftness, wit, humour and burlesque, and a surprising punchline that suddenly places the entire plot in a different light, as in the excellent short story Bistro B. Irena Dousková’s short stories are based on the best Czech traditions, with echoes of Hrabal’s spontaneous storytelling, Hašek’s grotesquerie and the absurd world of Franz Kafka flashing through the realistic texts, but at the same time they remain their own, original, urgent and full of feeling."
Statement by the Magnesia Litera jury