This novel effectively portrays individual fates set against the background of historical events, combining a love story with a bildungsroman, gunslinger tale and myth.
Ondřej Štindl’s narrative is formed of three parts. Each has a different protagonist, each is set in a different historical period and yet many elements connect them: Russian Liberation Army soldier Štěpán at the end of World War 2, truck driver Michal during the harsh normalisation period and hospital orderly Ivan at the end of the Communist regime are outsiders who cannot conform to society and don’t even particularly want to. Although they try to integrate into their communities and submit to unseen forces, there eventually comes a moment when they make a fateful decision and resist. Their lives are irreversibly transformed and start moving towards a tragic denouement, inevitable and devastating, however there is always a chance that there is hope beyond the line they have crossed.
“Štindl’s writing is like a sharp axe held by butcher in a bloody apron. Its chops are sharp and exact.”
— Markéta Pilátová, Hospodářské noviny