A book about collective guilt, individual fate, and repentance, a tale that explores how we can come to be responsible for crimes we neither directly commit nor have the power to prevent. Set in the Czechoslovakian borderland shortly after WWII amid the sometimes violent expulsion of the region’s German population, Jaroslav Durych’s poetic, deeply symbolic novel is a literary touchstone for coming to terms with the Czech Republic’s difficult and taboo past of state-sanctioned violence. A leading Catholic intellectual of the early twentieth century, Durych became a literary and political throwback to the prewar Czechoslovak Republic and faced censorship under the Stalinist regime of the 1950s. As such, he was a man not unfamiliar with the ramifications of a changing society in which the minority becomes the rule-making political authority, only to end up condemned as criminals. Though Durych finished writing God’s Rainbow in 1955, he could not have hoped to see it published in his lifetime. Released in a still-censored form in 1969, God’s Rainbow is available here in full for the first time in English.
“The current translation by Short, the first to appear in English, is based on the original text and represents a formidable achievement: it deciphers and conveys the beauty of Durych’s rich, poetic, and notoriously challenging language. […] Disturbingly authentic.”
— Zuzana Slobodová, The Times Literary Supplement
“I’ll go so far as to call Durych a torch-bearer in a time of darkness. If a book about ‘the ramifications of a changing society in which the minority becomes the rule-making political authority’ and its dire consequences doesn’t strike the reader as exigent in 2017, the reader isn’t paying very close attention.”
— M. Bartley Seigel, Words without Borders