After writing the extremely successful novel, Němci (The Germans), Jakuba Katalpa returns with a feminist-inflected multi-layered novel set in the present.
In her 70s, Květa is plagued by a sense of loneliness and uselessness after her husband’s death. As a result, she makes a small den in her cellar and waits for a visitor, whom she might imprison and tell the story of her life to. A postman named Bohumil becomes the victim. Meanwhile in America, Akiko Ikedao is dying of cancer. Hoang Thi Anh leaves her homeland and sets out for the long trip from Vietnam to Prague. She intends to help her daughter care for her household and small shop opposite Květa’s house, but meanwhile is confronted with cultural, generational and familial alienation. The characters’ stories, which intersect in Prague, are rooted in missed encounters, misunderstandings, and fate’s shared loneliness. They are illustrated through the book’s short chapters and matter-of-fact style.
“This novel becomes a small, planet-wide search for answers to the ordinary, but which still invokes extremely important questions throughout the course of our lives.”
“[Katalpa] describes loneliness in its rawest and most genuine form. She has refrained from any pathos or emotional blackmail. The fates of her characters are true and that is what makes them powerful.”