This story told by a young girl who is at once smart and naive is a firm family favourite in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Central Europe. Helena Součková, an eight-year-old schoolgirl in a small provincial town, deals not only with the uniquely dismal side of life in communist Czechoslovakia, but also with more than a few universal issues, like death, school dinners, guilt, obtuse teachers, betrayal, love, Jewishness, annoying little brothers, almost absent fathers, cruel classmates, bogus adults, eerie daydreams and nightmares that reflect the society around her. A child of her time, Helena nevertheless rises above it all with her special blend of grit, common sense and dark imaginings, which speak to us today with clarity and power. Helena has come to be a well-known archetype that many can identify with.
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“Every one of us drags some traumas from childhood into later, adult life. Some people manage to cope with these quite well while others lock them inside themselves for the rest of their lives. Irena Dousková is definitely not pampering hers in her novel B. Proudew. She depicts the world of her childhood as seen by a girl in the second year of elementary school in the town of Ničín, offering a radical and unusual attitude to the era of Normalization in Czechoslovakia and in particular to the world of grown-ups, who are ‘not as mischievous as children, are generally much nicer and don’t laugh at each other for being fat!’ (…) By its very nature B. Proudew is a light, relaxed, gentle and intelligent read which will provoke the reader to tears of laughter and nose-blows of nostalgia.”
— Bára Gregorová, iLiteratura
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B. Proudew English
Information about the original Czech edition
Other selected published translations (2)
Der tapfere Bella Tschau German
Dumny Bądźżeś Polish