Jáchym Topol

The Devil's Workshop

Chladnou zemí
Language: Czech
Title: Chladnou zemí
Place: Praha
Publisher: Torst
Year: 2009
Pages: 142
Genre: Prose
Awards
 2010 Jaroslav Seifert Prize
Foreign rights
Pluh
W: http://www.pluh.org
E: info@pluh.org
Contacts
E: jatop@volny.cz

The exploration of history’s trail, same as in Topol’s previous works, is intertwined with a surreal-carnival plot. The laconically narrated story is an archeology of horror, layer by layer uncovering the territory of the more recent European past. In the moment, when the last members of a generation that had experienced it all die, Topol demonstrates how their descendants strive to preserve the stories about violence, which they perceive as the last bastion of authenticity – only to founder in throes of commerce, musealisation and politics. Topol adroitly manages to steer clear of being explicit or chucking all values at the postmodern history scrapyard. On his journey to the mass graves of the European East, he approaches the ethically ambiguous questions from divergent perspectives, and – as if unwittingly and with subtle irony – undermines the apparently stable essence of our historical self-reflection.

Praise

“The Devil’s Workshop is a miracle of compression, its scope greater than ought to be possible for a book of its length. It should help to cement Jáchym Topol’s reputation as one of the most original and compelling European voices at work today.”

— Daniel Medin, The Times Literary Supplement

“The Czech writer Jáchym Topol’s novel is like a modern Dracula: full of Gothic horror that aims to frighten you to your senses and make you pay attention to history and its very real scars.”

— Pól Ó Muirí, Irish Times

“Blending fact and fiction, Topol’s darkly comic novel […] is a hard-hitting exploration of two nations bedevilled by past horrors.”

— Lucy Popescu, The Independent

Selected published translations (9)

Kallt land Swedish

De werkplaats van de duivel Dutch

Gjennom et kaldt land Norwegian

Die Teufelswerkstatt German

L’Atelier du Diable French

L'officina del diavolo Italian

The Devil's Workshop English

Por el país del frío Spanish

Warsztat diabła Polish

Language: Czech
Title: Chladnou zemí
Place: Praha
Publisher: Torst
Year: 2009
Pages: 142
Genre: Prose
Awards
 2010 Jaroslav Seifert Prize
Foreign rights
Pluh