At the end of the 1990s, Václav Kahuda released a series of books in a relatively short amount of time, each of which became a major literary event. The highlight of his work was the novel Houština [The Thicket] (1999), which is absolutely unique in the context of Czech prose. Then he went silent for ten years, because – as he himself explained – he had said everything he needed.
Now he is returning with a novel which resembles Houština with its autobiographical overtones and Kahuda’s typical wide-ranging and rich storytelling. The topic, however, is new. In the first chapter, the narrator decides to get to the bottom of a family mystery from the ’40s, when his grandfather, a talented design engineer, was taken away to Germany by members of the secret police. After refusing to cooperate, he returned safely home but the next morning he died inexplicably in his flat.
The narrator’s journey through Czech and German archives doesn’t yield a clear explanation. It does however unveil the inner workings of instruments of power, accompanied by a varied mosaic of personal and global-economic events. Together these form an uneasy picture of the present.