30 Jun 2011
Emil Hakl: On Flying Objects
Emil Hakl, whose latest novel has just been awarded the prestigious Josef Skvorecky Prize for literature, returns in this book to the genre of short stories enriched by new elements prompting comparisons with the great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. Twelve stories set mostly in contemporary Prague are inhabited by a wide range of peculiar characters. They probe the nature of human relationships and the atmosphere of unease which attends life in the Czech Republic today.
On Flying Objects; translation Petr Kopet, Comma Press, publication date 30 June 2011
Emil Hakl (1958) is widely recognized as one of the most remarkable writers of Czech literature and is often compared to the great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, though Hakl himself discards this comparison as being ridiculous. A graduate of the Jaroslav Jezek Conservatorium, he worked at a number of manual-labor jobs under the communist regime. During this time he was writing poetry and dramatizations of literature for amateur theater, and he was a founding member of the writer's group Moderni analfabet [Modern Illiterates]. Having worked as a copywriter for an advertising agency in the 1990s, as the decade ended he decided to devote himself to literature. His novel O rodičích a dětech (Of Kids & Parents) was awarded in 2002 the prestigious Magnesia Litera Book of the Year prize for prose. It has been translated into most European languages (including English by Marek Tomlin for Twisted Spoon), it has also been adapted into a feature film. In 2008 Hakl published the grand novel Let čarodějnice (Flight of the Witch) and it was one of the most sensational books of 2008. His most recent novel, published in 2010, is called Pravidla směšného chování (Rules of Peculiar Behaviour). It can be seen as a follow-up to his novel Of Kids & Parents and it was very well received by the Czech media, resulting in Hakl receiving prestigious the Josef Škvorecký Prize for literature in 2011.
Emil Hakl feature profile (relating to his novel, Of Kids and Parents:
Praise for ‘Of Kids and Parents’:
The father-son dialogue, beautifully caught by Marek Tomin's dancing translation, is a delight. Hakl trusts his readers to complete thee motional jigsaw, and spell out the heartbreak behind the hedonism. Lust and drink aside, history frames that heartbreak: the atrocities of wartime Croatia, where Benes senior grew up; the ruin of a "bourgeois" family after the Communist coup; the edgy aftermath of the Soviet invasion in 1968, when "everyone was trying to play both sides".
Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
It is this vision of Prague that Hakl also wants to convey, where things don't manage to be quite so serious and where you can always count on ambiguity.
The Complete Review
Skittishly insouciant, direly funny, this is a small, Waiting for Godot-ish gem.
Ray Olson, Booklist
30 Jun 2011