The Magpie on the Gallows

Daniel Petr

Daniel Petr: The Magpie on the Gallows

Original title: Straka na šibenici

Genre: novel


Host 2015

ISBN: 978-80-7491-500-0

Pages: 272


shortlisted for Magnesia Litera in the Prose category 2016, shortlisted for Josef Škvorecký Prize 2016


Making sense of your life and getting to the bottom of your identity isn’t always a good thing.


Let us imagine Pieter Bruegel’s painting The Magpie on the Gallows, in which a boy sees the magpie sitting on a strange swing while a man fails to notice the bird because the sole focus of his attention is the gallows. The life of the novel’s protagonist, who is growing up in a ramshackle house on the fringes of a North Bohemian backwater with an alcoholic father, unfolds between these two perspectives. Although the hero is of above-average intelligence and learns to read earlier than his peers, his father’s warped views on education remain in thrall to spectrefilled ignorance that is practically medieval. As the hero’s life lurches from one mishap to the next, Bruegel’s painting keeps appearing to him as a fateful riddle he needs to solve.

"Although Daniel Petr has published two books already, he has hitherto escaped the attention of literary critics and readers. His new novel The Magpie on the Gallows is bound to change that."

Miroslav Balaštík, editor-in-chief, Host

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