Can something that exists merely as a literary text, say a story, come about in real life? Can reality, to put it another way, steal something from literature, the same way literature steals from reality? Such is the question that Libor Hrach, the author of The Adventures of the Wise Badger, fields one evening over a hedonistic supper in a tony Brno restaurant from Kamil Modráček, himself a burrowing animal of sorts, in Jiří Kratochvil’s novel The Vow.
“Quite simply, I said, everything that has been written either has already happened, or is about to. You write a story, and you can never be sure if what you’re writing isn’t actually taking place two streets away from where you sit…” If this does not send chills down the spine of the reader of The Vow, they have got a high tolerance for the creepy.
Set in 1950s Brno, at the height of Gottwald’s Stalinist reshaping of Czechoslovakia into a Communist prison, and partially in today’s independent Czech Republic, Kratochvil, alternating between the dry Czech humour of Jaroslav Hašek and the uncanny, chilling otherworldliness of Edgar Allan Poe, takes the reader on a journey such as they have never been on before: to geographic areas in the beautiful Moravian city where no foot has set since the Middle Ages, and… places deep inside all of us, where most of us would rather never venture…
Translation of this book was supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.