Allegories of contemporary society from Prague’s Havlíček Park.
A statue of the god Neptune adorns the fountain by the entrance to the famous artificial cave in one of Prague’s parks. Marek Toman has the god come to life and uses him as a means and mouthpiece to observe major events in Czech society from the 1870s, when the industrialist Mořic Gröbe has the Havlíček Gardens beautified according to his artistic scheme, to the present day. Toman makes skilful use of the historical backdrop and the malleable narrator Neptune – that is to say, the stuccoer Josef Posedloň – for a thoughtful depiction of entirely contemporary dramas. Over the course of more than a hundred years, his historical witness manages to experience a great deal: a synagogue, Czech, German and Jewish women, both World Wars and the postwar arrangements. A novel which could also serve as a history textbook for those who love stories.
“Marek Toman has a feeling for inanimate objects. In his books they become living, almost elemental narrators who describe Czech history better than flesh-and-blood characters.”
“The fortunes of the peculiar hero, the statue of Neptune from Havlíček Park come to life, against the background of social, political and architectural changes to Vinohrady in Prague from the late 19th century to the present.”