Petr Šabach

Petr Šabach

Petr Šabach (1951-2017) was a prose writer and journalist. Many of his books have been turned into successful films. His books have also been published in Polish – becoming bestsellers in Poland – and in Hungarian.


Title Publisher Year Selected published translations Awards
And in the end Christmas (A nakonec Vánoce) Paseka 2015
Rothschild's bottle (Rothschildova flaška) Paseka 2015
Butterside Down (Máslem dolů) Paseka 2012 PL
One Ear Happy (S jedním uchem naveselo) Listen, Paseka 2011
Wasted Love (Škoda lásky) Paseka 2009
Another Time, Another Place (Někdy jindy, někde jinde) Listen 2009
Merry Christmas...2 (Šťastné a veselé... 2 (spolu s H. Pawlovskou, I. Obermannovou, J. Rudišem, I. Douskovou, I. Krausem, P. Bryczem, J. Hájíčkem, D. Fischerovou a V. Noskovou)) Listen 2008
Hemy and Marlen in Paris (Hemy a Marlen v Paříži (spolu s J. Kratochvilem, B. Dočekalem, P. Bryczem, M. Urbanem a E. Dutkou)) Listen 2008
Three Christmas Tales (Tři vánoční povídky) Paseka 2007
Merry Christmas... (Šťastné a veselé... (spolu s M. Vieweghem, M. Šmausem, I. Obermannovou, I. Pekárkovou, J. Balabánem, E. Hauserovou, J. Rudišem a D. Fischerovou)) Listen 2006
Identity Card (Občanský průkaz) Paseka 2006 ES
Ramon (written for the New York Times) (Ramon (Psáno pro New York Times)) Paseka 2004
Four Men on the Water or The Return of the Drunk Bananas (Čtyři muži na vodě aneb Opilé banány se vracejí,) Paseka 2003
Drunk Bananas (Opilé banány) Paseka 2001 PL
Travels of a Sea Horse (Putování mořského koně) Paseka 1998 PL
Grannies (Babičky) Paseka 1998 FR
The Peculiar Problem of František S. (Zvláštní problém Františka S.) Paseka 1996
Shit Burns (Hovno hoří) Paseka 1994 ES | PL
Jackal Years (Šakalí léta) Paseka 1993
How to Sink Australia (Jak potopit Austrálii) Československý spisovatel 1986
A nakonec Vánoce
And in the end Christmas
A nakonec Vánoce
Rothschild's bottle
Rothschildova flaška
Butterside Down
Máslem dolů
S jedním uchem naveselo
One Ear Happy
S jedním uchem naveselo
Škoda lásky
Wasted Love
Škoda lásky
Někdy jindy, někde jinde
Another Time, Another Place
Někdy jindy, někde jinde
Šťastné a veselé... 2 (spolu s H. Pawlovskou, I. Obermannovou, J. Rudišem, I. Douskovou, I. Krausem, P. Bryczem, J. Hájíčkem, D. Fischerovou a V. Noskovou)
Merry Christmas...2
Šťastné a veselé... 2 (spolu s H. Pawlovskou, I. Obermannovou, J. Rudišem, I. Douskovou, I. Krausem, P. Bryczem, J. Hájíčkem, D. Fischerovou a V. Noskovou)
Hemy a Marlen v Paříži (spolu s J. Kratochvilem, B. Dočekalem, P. Bryczem, M. Urbanem a E. Dutkou)
Hemy and Marlen in Paris
Hemy a Marlen v Paříži (spolu s J. Kratochvilem, B. Dočekalem, P. Bryczem, M. Urbanem a E. Dutkou)
Tři vánoční povídky
Three Christmas Tales
Tři vánoční povídky
Šťastné a veselé... (spolu s M. Vieweghem, M. Šmausem, I. Obermannovou, I. Pekárkovou, J. Balabánem, E. Hauserovou, J. Rudišem a D. Fischerovou)
Merry Christmas...
Šťastné a veselé... (spolu s M. Vieweghem, M. Šmausem, I. Obermannovou, I. Pekárkovou, J. Balabánem, E. Hauserovou, J. Rudišem a D. Fischerovou)
Občanský průkaz
Identity Card
Občanský průkaz
Ramon (Psáno pro New York Times)
Ramon (written for the New York Times)
Ramon (Psáno pro New York Times)
Čtyři muži na vodě aneb Opilé banány se vracejí,
Four Men on the Water or The Return of the Drunk Bananas
Čtyři muži na vodě aneb Opilé banány se vracejí,
Opilé banány
Drunk Bananas
Opilé banány
Putování mořského koně
Travels of a Sea Horse
Putování mořského koně
Babičky
Grannies
Babičky
Zvláštní problém Františka S.
The Peculiar Problem of František S.
Zvláštní problém Františka S.
Shit Burns
Hovno hoří
Šakalí léta
Jackal Years
Šakalí léta
Jak potopit Austrálii
How to Sink Australia
Jak potopit Austrálii
Award Year Country
Karel Čapek Prize 2016 Česká republika
Praise
[Šabach’s] strength lies in short, condensed stories, which have the proverbial beginning, middle and end – both rhyme and reason. They are like stories told in pubs or on long journeys.
—Jan Jandourek
Aktualne.cz

He studied at a secondary school specializing in library studies, then transferred to a grammar school; in 1969 he was expelled after he failed to return from his summer holidays in Great Britain until October. He ended up completing his studies in librarianship. He worked in manual occupations and was a gallery attendant.

The author’s style is described by Pavel Mandys on iLiteratura.cz thus: “The striking figure of Petr Šabach plays several important roles in the little pond of Czech literature. Above all, he is probably the most conspicuous successor to the tradition of Jaroslav Hašek and Bohumil Hrabal. He is reminiscent of Hašek mainly in the way he piles up (tragi)comic anecdotes, and Hrabal through his colloquial Czech, replete with references to intellectually demanding literature (in Šabach’s case there are also references to rock music). Compared to Hašek he lacks the ability to launch into these anecdotes and hyperbolize them in a sophisticated way; compared to Hrabal the language he uses is considerably simpler, but then Šabach’s understated writing flows very easily, which – when one considers the proliferation of contemporary texts which rely mainly on the use of their own special form – can be regarded as his own particular virtue.”

Šabach began by publishing short stories in magazines; the first book he had published was the collection of short stories Jak potopit Austrálii (How to Sink Australia, Československý spisovatel, 1986). It was this collection which contained the twenty-page story that was used as the basis for the film Šakalí léta (Jackal Years, 1993) by the scriptwriter Petr Jarchovský and the director Jan Hřebejek, as well as the inspiration for their film U mě dobrý (2008). In it Šabach depicted childhood and adolescence in the Prague district of Dejvice (which a number of the author’s texts refer to) in the 1950s and 60s. The communists’ arbitrary rule and the paradoxes of the time went on to dominate both the book Hovno hoří (Shit Burns, Paseka, 1994) and the film Pelíšky (Cosy Dens, 1998) which it was based on, once again by the duo of Jarchovský and Hřebejk. This was followed by Zvláštní problém Františka S. (The Peculiar Problem of František S., Paseka, 1996) and Putování mořského koně (Travels of a Sea Horse, Paseka, 1998).

Opilé banány (Drunk Bananas, Paseka, 2001) tells the story of four friends who decide to escape from the grey communist world to the seaside in a stolen car. As they get into one scrape after another and anecdote follows anecdote, the reader begins to realize how bitter the laughter that it provokes is. Šabach followed up on this successful novella with the loose sequel Čtyři muži na vodě aneb Opilé banány se vracejí (Four Men on the Water or The Return of the Drunk Bananas, Paseka, 2004).

In the novella Ramon (Paseka, 2005) two strange characters – the Native American Ramon and the writer Martin Luter – meet at the spring of the Virgin Mary of the Seven Sorrows in the fictional village of Kozloděj. This time it is not about an insight into the communist past but an ironic description of the present day through the eyes of an adolescent; Luter is sixteen and as a true aspiring writer he records everything that is happening around him.

This was followed by the novella Občanský průkaz (Identity Card, Paseka, 2006), which was made into a film of the same name (Ondřej Trojan, 2010), in which the author recalls Dejvice at the end of the sixties. The main characters get their first identity card in the fifties, hence the name.

The short stories Škoda lásky (Wasted Love, Paseka, 2009) connect love to music, especially to youthful bands which formed in garages and broke up before they even had the chance to appear in front of an audience for the first time. At some points the author also branched out from rock and roll to the world of classical world, and from Dejvice he moved on to Litomyšl.

The collection S jedním uchem naveselo (One Ear Happy, Paseka, 2011) goes beyond the borders of Dejvice and the Czech Republic in short stories examining complicated and amusing interpersonal relations. This was followed by the short stories Království za story (My Kingdom for a Story, Odeon, 2012) and the novella Máslem dolů (Butter Side Down, Paseka, 2013). The latter depicts the problems and escapades of two ageing heroes: Arnošt, who runs a secondhand bookshop (largely) without customers and Evžen, who loves America so much that he carries a gun under an American jacket.

Šabach’s last book book was Rothschildova flaška (Rothschild’s Bottle, Paseka, 2015), in which the author atypically sets out on an almost detective-like voyage to London.

Notable awards
 2016 Karel Čapek Prize
Contacts
E: petrsabach@post.cz