A Kingdom of Souls by Daniela Hodrová (tr. Véronique Firkusny, Elena Sokol)

a nutshell: set around the Olšany cemetry, this magical realist novel is a deeply complex, circular exploration of Prague’s history through the perspectives of living/dead family members, neighbours and objects

a line: “She concludes that it probably must be so, that the dead stay with us, find themselves a hidden nook, perhaps in the rafters. And it’s not really very strange that they need us, that they seek consolation from us, because they’re so helpless and probably homesick.”

an image: at one poitn, Hodrová writes that Springtime brings about the process of renewal – like the phoenix, the nation burns on a pyre and rises from its ashes – which feels pertinent to this Spring in Melbourne

a thought: I found this intricate, multilayered book a pretty challenging read, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it – it just demands immense concentration that I’m not sure I had in excess at the moment during lockdown!

a fact: in the translator’s note, Firkusny shares the fascinating story of how this translation came to be – her mother Tatiana brought home a first edition of the book which they co-translated, but there were many years of obstacles before it was eventually published – it also touched a third generation, with Firkusny’s daughter Silvia Callegari retyping the 1992 version into an editable document

want to read A Kingdom of Souls? visit here

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