By the North Wall

Petra Klabouchová

Petra Klabouchová: By the North Wall

Original title: U severní zdi

Genre: novel


Host, 2023

ISBN: 978-80-275-1540-0

Pages: 343

Rights sold to:

Macedonia (Antolog), France (Agullo Editions)


Novel inspired by the true stories of female political prisoners in the 1950s


The body and soul of a mysterious Man with a Hole in his Heart bears unhealed wounds. No one has ever been brought to justice for a crime from his long-ago childhood, by which he lost his family. Times may change, but the world around him remains as before: deaf, dumb and blind. Everyone has either forgotten or is trying hard to forget. Except for him. And as justice has not been done, he himself must act. As his own end nears, stories of child victims of the communist regime emerge like phantoms from the mass graves of the Ďáblice cemetery – with ever greater urgency.         

At a home for the long-term sick, a Nurse for the Dying helps her patients through the last moments of their earthly life. Then a new client arrives at the hospice with something that is beyond its staff’s comprehension. Are some of the old women concealing a dark past? And if so, is there a need to exorcise a devil from their consciences? It is pay-back time at last…  

This novel can be read as a thrilling tale of detection, although instead of a detective and a police investigation we have someone who is unwilling to forgive and forget. In the company of the reader, this ‘avenger’ gradually reveals the stories buried in the Ďáblice cemetery. 


"The Brno-based Host Publishers can now confidently add another discovery to its extensive portfolio: A writer who has clear potential, both for translation into foreign languages and for more major texts. What was hinted at in last year's Sources of the Moldau is confirmed by her latest novel By the North Wall.


Petra Klabouchová has written a novel on a timeless but topical subject: how permeable the border is between normality and the insane deviance of a person who has been consumed by ideology, who willingly trades away his humanity in the service of an aberrant and pathological vision.

Klabouchová is primarily a writer who keeps the political tone in check. She demonstrates maximum writerly skills: not only the generally craftsmanlike, involving the overall text construction, the modelling of individual figures and the ongoing permeation of the story’s atmosphere, but also the outlining of specific situations, shots and images.


This is not a detective but a horror story. Brutal, merciless horror. And of course, something else too, perhaps most important of all: memento. Memento mori."

Radim Kopáč, Lidové noviny



"Part detective, part psychological drama, with actual horror scenes in places where the main  theme is that criminals must not be forgiven and bad people can be lied to. This book, somewhere between Petr Stančík's Pravomil and Marek Epstein's Země, is perhaps evidence of some kind of change in attitude towards the judicial murders of the 1950s in Czechoslovakia, to at least literally achieve some justice, albeit not by legal means, but  through the illegal act of retribution. The dead must be avenged..."

Jakub Šofar, Salon, Právo

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