Augustin Zimmermann, the main protagonist of this novel which takes place in the 1860s, represents an almost archetypal model of an unhappy person. While the world around him is productive and prosperous during the Industrial Revolution, his family is struggling with an existential crisis exacerbated by his alcoholism and hopeless attempts to succeed in this new world. Augustin’s uncertain past, strange unease and deceitful nature cast a dark shadow on his entire family, which is spiralling into increasing despair and falling to the bottom of the social hierarchy from which there is no escape. The story culminates tragically in Prague’s Josefov quarter, a place of misery, which for centuries was a Jewish ghetto.
This debut novella is inspired by the true story of Augustin Zimmermann and his children. However, the author, Zuzana Kultánová, uses historical events and the backdrop of old Prague to capture a timeless story about the foolish desire of the main character to break free from his nature and dark passions, which led to many fateful mistakes.
“An exceptional and uncompromising novel.”
— Aleš Palán, Hospodářské noviny
“Augustin Zimmermann is an exceedingly good debut novella […] The author’s diverse style is full of naturalism and a number of imaginative analogies, yet it retains its clarity.”
— Petr Nagy, Host 8/2016
“This text inspired by a true story is able to convey the facts with ease. It is also laudable because it possesses elements of a parable. What is the outside world responsible for and what is the individual’s fault? Why is it that some people can live in poverty with dignity while others cannot? Perhaps Zuzana Kultánová’s riveting novella reminds us mainly that the danger of materialistic hedonism, greed and envy can destroy any life during any period in time.”
— Tomáš Weiss, Hospodářské noviny
“[…] very well done, not only because of the interesting plot based on real events but also because of how the author adapts these facts. Her novella is an original probe into the soul of the hero, who, however, cannot be labelled a hero in any conventional sense of the word.”
— Táňa Mohelníková, iLiteratura