This existential and environmental novel offers hope that life can have meaning even amid the debris, and that death is not the biggest problem we face on Earth.
The novel Destruction follows the fortunes of a teacher who has fled from the city to the countryside to escape the complexity of the world. He wants to find peace, order and certainty, to become part of life in a community where every person has their place and every question its answer, where the truth is clear and beyond doubt. Initially, this nameless protagonist in a nameless village finds himself in a seemingly ideal situation: he gets a house to live in and a steady job as a primary-school teacher. All that remains is to find a wife and merge into the order of the traditional world.
The fact that he can’t escape from the world hits him in the classroom when he is unable to answer any of the children’s questions with certainty. He has no idea what he should teach them about a world he doesn’t understand himself. He has no idea how to give them certainty when he himself is torn apart by constant anxiety. And the state of the village does nothing to put his mind at ease. Instead of tranquil countryside, he discovers a world in disarray. Instead of life, he finds death; instead of pristine nature, a withered forest, dead fields and dried-up wells. While the hero observes an environmental disaster of unknown origin, almost everyone around him looks the other way and gives evasive answers to straightforward questions. They pretend nothing is happening, and if something is happening, they claim nothing can be done about it.
“In his second novel, the Brno-based sociologist writes about a world where the climate crisis and the pandemic call into question everything we’ve taken for granted but which society is unable to respond to in any way.”
About the author:
Stanislav Biler (1982) is a sociologist, writer, script editor and journalist. He has written for a number of Czech newspapers and magazines. He has worked at Czech Television, in the Ombudsman’s office and as a factory worker in Oldham, Greater Manchester. In 2011 he co-founded the (originally sarcastic) political movement Žít Brno (To Live Brno). He has written the books Nejlepší kandidát (The Best Candidate, 2017) and 111 míst v Brně, která musíte vidět (111 Places in Brno You Must See, 2020). In his free time, he enjoys walking through the wilderness.