Have you ever wondered what a story written by a beam of light would be like? Find out in this EU Prize for Literature-winning novel about photographer František Drtikol.
First, the story would be ordinary but the course of events extraordinary; second, its hero would be a photographer, a guardian of light; third, naturally it would be full of shadow. So who was František Drtikol? A dandy from a small mining town, a world-famous photographer whose business went bankrupt, a master of the nude who never had much luck with women, a mystic and a Buddhist who believed in communism; a man whose many contradictions showed outwardly and were synthesized inwardly. The conception of Jan Němec’s extensive novel is very unusual for contemporary Czech prose – fresco-like, it is an artistic and spiritual Bildungsroman that covers over half a century, bringing to life the silver mines of Příbram, Jugendstil Munich and First Republic Bohemianism, with naked models wandering along the lines and light merging unobserved with knowledge…
More information in Hungarian on the publisher’s website.
“[A History of Light] represents a remarkable and substantial experiment, offering an account about Drtikol, the history of photography as a new art form, the cultural climate of the incredibly interesting and turbulent period around the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the First World War and the 1920s, but also about the narrative possibilities of contemporary novels.”
— Petr A. Bílek, Respekt
“Mystery, success and loneliness – these are ingredients for a nutritious literary dish. The author Jan Němec chose photographer František Drtikol as the hero of his book A History of Light and wrote one of last year’s best Czech novels.”
— Aleš Palán, Hospodářské noviny
Information about the original Czech edition
Other selected published translations (3)
История на светлината Bulgarian
Historia światła Polish
Storia della luce Italian