Two books shortlisted for the Magnesia Litera Award 2024

Two books shortlisted for the Magnesia Litera Award 2024

Good prospects for Petr Šesták's novelistic pamphlet Burnout / Vyhoření in the prose category and Pavel Bareš's fantasy novel Jimmy the Sloth and His Backup Band / Lenochod Jimmy & jeho backup band in the fantasy and sci-fi category

Statements by the Magnesia Litera jury:

Petr Šesták: Burnout

"An incisive novel, which demonstrates that even the pamphleteering genre can be handled in a subversive and inspiring way. Its narrator, a food-delivery bicycle courier, angrily denounces contemporary capitalist society, symbolically embodied in the automobile. He  addresses his motorist adversary using a disrespectful pronoun, thus basically lashing out at every car owner. However, anger and implacability gradually eat away at the courier, and the character, who initially inspires sympathy – and whose cycling jihad seems righteous – turns into an aggressive fanatic. Šesták’s pamphlet thus becomes a multifaceted allegory that leaves more questions than clear answers. The author’s shrewd choice of a fitting genre and of an unreliable hero also avoids accusations that he is being formulaic and that the cyclist’s exclamations are emotionally manipulative – all of which can be attributed to the narrator, whose schematic view of the world Šesták sardonically criticizes."

Pavel Bareš:  Jimmy the Sloth and His Backup Band

"Four years ago Pavel Bareš did something admirable with his novel Meta: he convinced readers that even in Czech fantasy, which has been dominated by more or less expertly crafted action stories, it is possible to write a modern-day civil-life story that works purposefully with the anxieties and problems of young people and uses fantasy motifs not as mere spectacles or crutches for shifts in the story, but to highlight the seriousness of its themes. In the first half at least, the musical-existential horror is much more playful, while paying homage to more than just the author’s frontman past. Few works in Czech literature are so able to adeptly capture the fear and frustration that accompany growing up and finding one’s place in a world which, frankly, really isn’t worth much without empathy. But that’s ultimately Bareš’s message: even if magic and paranormal abilities work, never trust them or rely on them more than empathy and your own humanity."

The links above provide basic information about both books. More excerpts from the reviews are to come soon.

The results will be announced on 18th April 2024.

15. 3. 2024