Petra Hůlová (b .1979) is a fiction writer and the recipient of several literary awards, including the Czechia’s highest literary recognitions – the Magnesia Litera, the Josef Škvorecký Award and the Jiří Orten Award. She studied language, culture, and anthropology at universities in Prague, Ulan Bator and New York, and was a Fulbright scholar in the USA. Her first novel, All This Belongs to Me (2002, Paměť mojí babičce), won the Magnesia Litera Award for Discovery of the Year. The English translation by Alex Zucker won the ALTA National Translation Award. Her fourth novel, Plastic Three-bedroom (2006, Umělohmotný třípokoj), won the Jiří Orten Prize for the best work of prose or poetry by an author of thirty or under; Alex Zucker’s English translation received the PEN Translates Award. Hůlová’s fifth novel, Taiga Station (2008, Stanice Tajga) won the Josef Škvorecký Prize. A total of ten novels and two plays of hers have been translated into more than ten languages. She lives in Prague.
May 2019, 276 pages
Available material: English sample, French sample
Rights sold to: Hungary (Metropolis)
On the destructive impact divorce has on children, and the wars children wage against their parents
Daddy Thief examines the private history of a nuclear family. Ten-year-old Miky lives between the shared custody of his parents, which he detests just as much as he hates his new siblings and stepmother, who have “stolen” his dad. Miky lives in a world of his own, where reality intertwines with mobile phone and computer games. Misunderstandings, grief and pain lead to anger and revolt.
Hůlová considers parents’ rights over their children alongside the rights of the children in a broken-down family undergoing the process of reconfiguration. She depicts the volatile distinction between an unruly brat and an unfortunate boy, dragged into the disputes of his guardians.
“Hůlová’s new novel offers an uncompromising view of shared custody from a child’s perspective, and tries to answer the question of what exactly the right to happiness means.”
— Czech Radio, Radio Wave
“Daddy Thief is set mainly in Prague. The country is plagued by tropical heat; petrol and diesel cars are now things of the past; and data centres are being built in place of old houses no longer fit for familial use. Most children have to wear corsets, because their bodies are collapsing from perennial addiction to computer games. When they have to write a test at school, they are given pills to help them concentrate.”
Usually, all you read about shared custody is good parts. My dad’s shown me the websites, and whenever there’s an article in some paper magazine, he shoves it in my face. He gives it to me cause I’m the one who reads the most and fights the most. For all of us. My dad says it’s a “philosophy,” which means “a way of thinking,” and I’m interested in thoughts, but that doesn’t mean I agree. Cause thoughts can be “ideological,” and you can’t agree with that. Our teacher Mrs Roubalka told us about “communist” ideology. Which is a bad way of thinking, since under communism, you weren’t allowed to think differently, and it’s the same with shared custody.
Instead of going to Sunday school and drinking real coffee after the sermon, which Mrs Blechová, who’s almost blind, pours out of a thermos, we’re driving to a festival for “new families.” Dad announced it to all of us this morning and said there’d be “no debate.” He said we would meet people in a “similar situation,” and when he added that it would give us a chance to see the whole thing from a “different perspective” he was mainly looking at me.