Magic and symbolism intertwine with a sensitive, realistic portrait of a small town and a detective storyline in this novel by a rising star of Czech prose.
In her second novel, Anna Bolavá follows loosely from her debut, Do tmy (Into Darkness), which was praised by both readers and critics. As in her prosaic debut, the short title serves as a kind of a treble clef for the dark score of the story. The number of falls, declines and slumps, both literal and figurative, mounts up in this novel, where the main role is played by swamps outside the central town. A secondary detective plotline – the discovery of the body of a missing teacher – is used as a starting point for the depiction of a tangled social web around a poultry farm worker, a single mother, Milada, in a small town with its narrow-mindedness, hopelessness and obsessions (food, work, money…). Ironic passages, the vividness of which reveals the writer’s first-hand experience, alternate with flashes of the disturbing supernatural reminiscent of the work of Stephen King. It’s not just the cool air from the woods that is permeating the town, the tempting call of the watery depths can also be heard in the distance.
“Ordinary does not mean banal to the author; every character has its depth and peculiarity. Her approach is unique in the context of contemporary Czech literature, and shows that there is a great storyteller being born who can captivate diverse readerships.”
—Kateřina Čopjaková, Respekt
“A masterly stylist, a lover of short sentences and crushed life stories has carefully composed an autumnal, semi-dark, gloomy story from the periphery where characters cut their lives into shifts, keep silent or muddy the waters about their motivation, never getting what they want.”
About the author
Poet and novelist, real name Bohumila Adamová (b. 1981). Winner of the 2016 Magnesia Litera Award in the prose category for her debut novel Do tmy (Into Darkness, 2016), which was hailed by critics as one of the major discoveries of recent years. She has written under different names in various literary magazines and published a poetry collection, Černý rok (The Black Year, 2013), under the Anna Bolavá pseudonym.