“ABERRANT” by Marek Šindelka (Czech Republic)

    Marek Šindelka’sAberrant” (Chyba), translated from the Czech by Nathan Fields; artwork by Petr Nikl, The Twisted Spoon Press

    “The remarkable debut novel from Marek Šindelka, already the recipient of his country’s major literary awards for poetry (Jiří Orten Prize) and prose (Magnesia Litera), “Aberrant” is a multifaceted work that mixes and mashes together a variety of genres and styles to create a heady concoction of crime story, horror story (inspired by the Japanese tradition of kaidan), ecological revenge fantasy, and Siberian shamanism.”

    “Aberrant”, Czech edition

    Nothing is what it seems.

    What appears to be human is actually a shell occupied by an alien spirit, or demon, and what appears to be an unassuming plant is an aggressive parasite that harbors a poisonous substance within, or manifests itself as an assassin, a phantom with no real substance who pursues his victims across Europe and through a post-apocalyptic Prague ravaged by floods.

    The blind see, and the seeing are blind.

    Plants behave like animals, and animals are symbionts with plants.

    Through these devices, Šindelka weaves a tale of three childhood friends, the errant paths their lives take, and the world of rare plant smuggling — and the consequences of taking the wrong plant — to show the rickety foundation of illusions on which our relationship to the environment, and to one another, rests. It is a world of aberrations, anomalies, and mistakes.”

    Think Orlean’s The Orchid Thief on acid. It’s all kinds of funky, and in the hands of a lesser writer (and translator), it could have been little more than a hot, indulgent mess.

    But Šindelka never loses his thread, which is saying something about a novel wherein losing the thread is part of the point. We’re on shaky ground in 2017, people, and Šindelka’s world of ‘aberrations, anomalies, and mistakes’ feels unnervingly timely, and is enormously fun in the bargain. Everyone wins.” – M. Bartley Seigel, WWB Daily

    The plant world constitutes a specific milieu in the novel and recalls Michal Ajvaz’s “The Other City”, which is visible only to those who wish to see it …” –

    Aberrant” by Marek Šindelka is a brilliantly written and ingeniously constructed novel … when finished the reader is left with a liberating feeling of catharsis befitting the dramas of antiquity and medieval legends.” – Czech Radio

    Marek Šindelka (1984) is a poet and novelist.

    He made his debut with the volume of verse Strychnin (Strychnine) for which he was awarded the Jiří Orten Prize 2006.

    Two years later he published his first novel Chyba (Aberrant), a book that was well received by both critics and readers.

    Šindelka is one of the new upcoming authors in Czech literature and has already shown his ability as a writer.

    Together with the illustrator Vojtěch Mašek he turned his novel Aberrant into a graphic novel. It gave them the opportunity to present the story in another way and develop other lines in the story and thus presenting a new view.

    In 2001 he published a volume of short stories called Zůstaňte s námi (Stay Tuned), expressing a critical and ironic view on contemporary life.

    The book was awarded with the Litera Magnesia Prize 2012 and was nominated for the Josef Škvorecký Prize 2012.

    His last book is Mapa Anny (Map of Anna), a set of short stories that are interconnected with each other and digs deep into the personal feelings and lives of young people.

    The Dutch edition of Map of Anna was published in 2016 by the publishing house Das Magazin and met with tremendous response by both critics and readers.

    Late 2016 Šindelka published Únava materiálu (Material Fatigue), a controversial novel about refugees.


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