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9 Jun 2015 19:30

The Žítková Goddesses (Žítkovské bohyně) by Kateřina Tučková at Liars’ League

Writers write, actors read, audience listens, everybody wins. That’s the motto of Liars’ League, the award-winning, globe-straddling short story night which has been running in London since 2007. This showcase of European literature in translation celebrates fresh talent from Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

Actors will read stories from some of the most exciting European authors, featuring extraordinary characters like Sigitas Parulskis’s World War II photographer and Jan Krasnowolski ’s drug-smuggler turned refugee-babysitter. From Kateřina Tučková’s Czech witches via Nora Bossong’s bereaved businesswoman to Tadej Golob’s struggling comic-book writer, these fictions will take you far from home, bringing the foreign into focus and turning the familiar strange.

Admission: £5 (on the door)
T: +44 (0)7808 939 535

Kateřina Tučková (b.1980) is Czech writer and art curator specializing in contemporary Czech art. She has written many publications on art history and a monograph on the writer Vera Sladkova. Her debut novella Montespaniade in 2006 was followed by novels The Expulsion of Gerta Schnirch (20090) and The Žítková Goddesses (2012) which was awarded the prestigious Josef Skvorecky Prize and Magnesia Litera Prize for literature and has become a Czech bestseller selling more than 90,000 copies while being translated into 11 languages. The Zitkovska Goddesses was also successfully adapted for the theatre and is now being made into a film. www.katerina-tuckova.cz

“The fascinating story of a female soul, magic and a forgotten part of our history. High in the mountains of the White Carpathians, there have always lived women gifted with exceptional abilities. They could heal and help with any suffering, they could counsel those with troubles and they were said to foresee the future. They were called goddesses...”

Publisher: Host, March 2012 (hardback and e-book), January 2013 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-80-7294-528-3
416 pp

A fascinating tale of the female soul, magic and a part of Czech history kept hidden.

In the heights of the White Carpathians, dotted sparsely across the hills, there are a number of crouched buildings. Everything is far away, which is why, so they say, certain women there have succeeded in preserving knowledge and intuition the rest of us have lost, which they have passed from generation to generation for centuries. They are known as goddesses, because they are able to connect with God and ask for His help. And His interventions do help a little ... It is said of the goddesses that they see the future. So why haven’t they saved their own?

Dora Idesová is the last of the goddesses. She is reluctant to accept an outdated way of life and to read in drips of wax the futures of those who come to her, as her aunt Surmena did. But everything changes once she understands that personal circumstances she has always considered unhappy – being sent to a boarding school, Jakoubek’s institutional care, hospitalization an asylum in Kroměříž – is part of a carefully thought-out plan. It is the late 1990s, and in the archives of the Ministry of the Interior in Pardubice there is a file awaiting discovery – a file compiled by the State Security police on an enemy of the state, her aunt Surmena. A disbelieving Dora untangles details of the previously unknown fates of her family and other goddesses ...
Were the goddesses a danger to incredulous patients? Were they a genuine ideological threat to society in the years of Normalization? Or was the eradication of the last relics of paganism the work of common human envy and spite?

Awards: Josef Škvorecký Prize (2012), Czech Bestseller (2012), Magnesia Litera – Readers Award (2013), Czech Book Prize – Readers Award (2013)

From the reviews:

Tučková uncovers troubled stories of the Goddesses of Žítková
Kultura21.cz | 5. 5. 2012 | Section: Literature | Author: Veronika JURČOVÁ
(...) On the backdrop of a world, in which time seems to come to a stop, the author depicts the fortunes of several generations of simple countrywomen endowed with extraordinary healing and psychic abilities, the Goddesses of Žítková. And it is a fascinating narration. A novel on a great women’s topic of faith in natural forces and incantation, a healing power of hope, but also of solitude, despair, cruelty and vengefulness. (...)
“Žítkovské bohyně” is among the most interesting books that have grown up in the Czech Republic on the field of novel in recent years. (...)

Following the Remnants of Magic to Kopanice
Týdeník rozhlas | No. 18/2012 | 23. 4. 2012 | Section: Buy it | Author: Pavel KOTRLA
(...) Release of the new novel “Žítkovské bohyně” (Host 2012) had been announced as a literary event. And, to begin with, we can state that this expectation has been successfully met. (...)
The story is masterfully composed, containing several stylistic planes that gradually become entwined in a single great picture. It shows us that lives do not need to be mundane, and a seemingly ordinary environment may hide great stories. I cannot remember when I last read a story with such a strong motif of realized vengeance in Czech literature. (...)
The original theme of the novel can be regarded as clearly positive. It had been waiting to be approached in a grand manner, having been only captured in ethnographic and regional literature. The author managed to recast extensive historic and folklore material into a remarkable novel. A strong story and vivid language full of images ask to be made into a movie.  (...) we are presented with a novel which is a Czech literary event.

Video from the event - extract from The Žítková Goddesses read by Sarah Feathers

Part of European Literature Night VII


The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PP


9 Jun 2015 19:30


Czech Center is a coorganizer of the event

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