Good prospects for Irena Dousková’s book of short stories All’s Well, in the End / Konec dobrý and Simona Bohatá’s novel Lucky Beny / Klikař Beny
Irena Dousková is a novelist, poet, playwright, and screenwriter. She is the author of eleven books of fiction and her books have appeared (or are due to appear) in fifteen languages.
Statement by the Magnesia Litera jury:
“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.“
Simona Bohatá is the author of three books. Her second novel Everybody Sucks / Všichni sou trapný, published in 2019, was very well received both by literary critics and readers. Last year Simona Bohatá followed up this book with a loose sequel, published under the title Lucky Beny / Klikař Beny.
Statement by the Magnesia Litera jury:
“When the family, the education system and the state apparatus fail, you still have good friends to rely on, but who would go looking for them in a scruffy scrapyard in Prague’s Vysočany? With precise strokes and without idealization or ideology, Simona Bohatá portrays the raw, flaking, worn-out reality of 1980s Normalization, a reality in which rudeness, bullying, denunciations, deceitfulness and time clocks are omnipresent. Beny stands on the threshold of adulthood with just one desire -- to take photos. No sooner is he out of the clutches of the draft board than the sword of Damocles of “parasitism” hangs over him. However, this determined young man will not let gruelling work in a factory get him down, so in suspense we watch him moving step by step closer and closer to his dream with the support of his loyal friends and thanks to a happy combination of circumstances.
Thanks to the juicy dialogues that have been so nicely reproduced, the author has managed to create characters so full-blooded that we can almost feel their pulse, and with every page we worry about them more and more and keep our fingers crossed for them. Each chapter is a perfect tragicomic moment. Although it might seem that Simona Bohatá is following the Hrabal line of Czech prose, she soon sets us straight on that, as she confidently forges her own path as an author. Even though she leads us to the vanished places of Prague -- to Žižkov before its demolition and to the “China” emergency settlement in Vysočany -- she finds a more general message to be of greater importance, i.e. that you can retain your moral integrity even in unfavourable circumstances. Where there is internal strength there is also freedom.“
The links above provide basic information about both books and more excerpts from the reviews.
The results will be announced on 10th April 2022.
10. 3. 2022