Topol’s highly awaited new novel captures the Zeitgeist, reflecting on love and death, religion, family, friendship, survival, modern politics, the Russian threat, Europe and populism.
Moor, a middle-aged actor, travels around Europe with his wife Olga and their two kids. They attend theatre festivals, where they perform their plays. Being confronted with a growing resentment towards foreigners, Moor decides, after decades spent abroad, to return home to the Czech Republic and settle down. After being caught by accident in the midst of the Ukrainian-Russian war they finally reach their home region on the banks of the Sázava river, south-east of Prague.
Back home, Moor is accused of murdering his father-in-law. He escapes the law and together with his two sons embarks upon a kind of road trip through the region. They go on foot, by car and by boat and encounter a series of local people, stories and events. We meet clans, hookers, loan sharks, gypsies, hoodlums, drunks, telltales. All leading up to a grand finale including a wedding, a brothel, the police and a Russian tank.
A Sensitive Person has its own specific dynamic and rhythm. Full speed grotesque episodes alternate with witty and vivid dialogues; poetic descriptions contrast with the vulgar, explicit speech of the protagonists. It is a story about ordinary people who are not inhibited by any political correctness and who try to find their way in a community, in a world that is changing. The novel reflects the European society of today, and the characters in Topol’s novel are rough people, brutal, but with a heart. They are all sensitive.
“A picaresque romp of black humour and fantasy, the novel teems with extraordinary characters, but it is also urgently contemporary.”
—The Times Literary Supplement
“A Sensitive Person is grotesque and meditative, kind and gloomy, full of irony, sadness and black humour, forming a dazzling geyser in which more and less believable stories alternate in a diabolical rhythm.”
Selected published translations (2)
Ein empfindsamer Mensch German
Una persona sensibile Italian