“I wanted my first book to be about my people, my country. Prague is my favourite city in the world but it is fascinating to see how it is becoming this beautiful architectural backdrop to a shopping mall. Some of it is disappointing but it’s interesting to see the city of my birth becoming a metropolis. The Czech society still grapples with its communist past. Modern patriotism collides with old conspiracy theories among the detritus of abandoned missions.”, says Jaroslav Kalfař
“Jaroslav Kalfař was born and raised in 1989 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and immigrated to the United States at the age of fifteen (in 2004), speaking little to no English but learning it by watching Cartoon Network.
He graduated from University of Central Florida, where he received a Frances R. Lefkowitz Scholarship, the Outstanding Fiction Writer award and the Founder’s Scholar Award for being the top graduate in the College of Arts and Humanities.
He earned his MFA at NYU, where he was a Goldwater Fellow and was one of the three nominees for the new NYU E.L. Doctorow Fellowship Award upon graduating. He is twenty-eight years old.”
“His debut novel, „The Spaceman of Bohemia, is an extraordinary vision of the endless human capacity to persist – and risk everything – in the name of love and home.
Set in the near-distant future, it follows a Czech astronaut as he launches into space to investigate a mysterious dust cloud covering Venus, a suicide mission sponsored by a proud nation. Suddenly a world celebrity, Jakub’s marriage starts to fail as the weeks go by, and his sanity comes into question. After his mission is derailed he must make a violent decision that will force him to come to terms with his family’s dark political past.”
Foyles’interview with Jaroslav Kalfař, about “the horror and incomprehensible loneliness of space travel, the relationship between ambition and love and the complexity of the legacy of communism”:
“Spring of 2018. On a warm April afternoon, the eyes of the Czech nation gazed from Petrin Hill as space shuttle JanHus1 launched from a state-owned potato field.” – Jaroslav Kalfař, “Spaceman from Bohemia”.
So begins the story of Jakub Procházka, who informs us he was destined for a simple life of service to a world united in socialism before “the Iron Curtain tumbled with a dull thud and the bogeyman invaded my country with his consumer love and free markets”. – The Guardian
“You only have to read a few lines of Jaroslav’s Kalfař’s debut novel to realise that you are undoubtedly in the land of the satirist Jaroslav Hašek and film‑maker Jiří Menzel. There are nods to Bohumil Hrabal and Josef Škvorecký, and the relentlessly inventive style made me think of the zaniness of Karel Čapek’s “War with the Newts” and his classic SF play about Rossum’s Universal Robots, “R.U.R. It’s as if an episode of Star Trek has crashed into Milan Kundera’s “The Joke.” – The Guardian
“A frenetically imaginative first effort, booming with vitality and originality . . . Kalfar’s voice is distinct enough to leave tread marks.”-Jennifer Senior, New York Times
An intergalactic odyssey of love, ambition, and self-discovery!
Jaroslav Kalfař’s “Spaceman of Bohemia” received a rave from Publishers Weekly, which called it a “wonderfully jubilant and touching debut novel.”
Booklist also reviewed SPACEMAN OF BOHEMIA, writing “Cutting to memorable scenes set in small-town Czechoslovakia and, later, in Prague, Kalfař’s absurdist debut eloquently explores the crushing burden of having to carry your father’s sins and its effects on a man whose sole ambition was to live an ordinary existence….”
And Library Journal said “it manages to be singularly compelling while still providing mass appeal. Highly recommended.”
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