Strange accidents and terrifying incidents in the Czech countryside. A village novel one wants to read in the safe embrace of the city.
Husband and wife Bohumil and Bohumila, together with their mentally disabled son, move from Prague to a small village in the borderlands to work out their marital crisis. In the searing summer heat, they try to fit in among the locals; at first, they blame minor misunderstandings on their strangeness and lack of capacity to understand the social codes of the village. The sense of danger grows, though, as the lies, small and big, the “accidents”, and the scary incidents all start piling up. Then, one night, Bohumil and Bohumila come home to find the house empty: their son is gone. The series of uncanny events culminates on the third day after the boy’s disappearance when all the villagers gather outside the couple’s cottage in festive costumes. Did the local country bumpkins’ bizarre game turn into some perverse, modern folklore ritual? Are the lives of Bohumil and Bohumila in danger? And what has happened to their son?
“Zuzana Říhová’s writing is merciless; her words and sentences are as sharp as knives and razor blades that cut into the reader’s body.”
“Thanks to its highly metaphorical language, this dark, bewitching, almost apocalyptic narrative about the desire to start over somewhere else, framed by the story of Red Riding Hood, makes for an exceptional read.”
About the author:
Zuzana Říhová (1981) studied Czech Language and Literature and Comparative Literature at Charles University in Prague. She has been working at the Institute of Czech Literature of the Czech Academy of Sciences since 2007 and was Head of Czech Studies at the University of Oxford from 2014 to 2017. She has a lifelong interest in Czech avant-garde literature and, apart from Cestou špendlíků nebo jehel (Through Pins or Needles, 2021), she has also published a collection of poetry, Pustím si tě do domu (I’ll Let You in My House, 2016), and a novella, Evička (Little Eve, 2018).