THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS LITERARY AWARD – DISCOVERY OF THE YEAR (2003)
CZECH NEWSPAPERS – BOOK OF THE YEAR (2002)
April 2009, 239 pages
Available material: English translation
Foreign editions: Croatia (Hena com), Bulgaria (Perseus), Macedonia, (Magor), Sweden (Ramus), Slovenia (Cankarjeva), France (Éditions de L’Olivier), Hungary (Európa Könyvkiadó), The Netherlands (Uitgeverij Prometheus/Bert Bakker, Poland (Wydawnictwa W.A.B.), Germany (Luchterhand Verlag), USA (Northwestern University Press), Italy (Baldini Castoldi editore), Egypt (Al-Arabi Publishing), Romania (Curtea Veche)
Imaginary life stories of three generations of twentieth-century Mongolian women
All Belongs to Me chronicles the lives of three generations of women in a Mongolian family. Told from the point of view of a mother, three sisters, and one of the sisters’ daughters, this story of secrets and betrayals transports us from the daily rhythms of nomadic life on the steppe to the harsh realities of alcoholism and prostitution in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. All Belongs to Me is a sweeping family saga that showcases author’s genius.
Hůlová does not present colourful snapshots of a remote foreign landscape. Her depictions of life in Mongolia are bleak and far from picturesque.
When the shoro hits, plastic sacks go whipping round and round the ger. Sometimes I sit outside and watch the sand swirl as the horizon turns golden-brown and through the whirl of yellow dust the sun is dim and trembly. My shoes turn gray under the buildup of dust, a dust that stings people’s eyes and crunches under the horses’ hoofs, setting the whole herd on edge and making it hard on the yelping nochoi whose job it is to separate the in-foal mares with young from the rest.
When the shoro hits and there’s nothing to do, since I can’t see a step ahead and I’d choke to death outside, or not be able to find my way back, I sit out in front of the entrance to our ger, on the right, and wonder what it used to look like here in the days before there were plastic sacks, when families like us didn’t have even a decent knife and couldn’t improve their lot by selling crackers and cigarettes, the way our father did whenever someone happened to stumble across us. Lately, it’s been happening pretty often.
“All Belongs to Me is an acutely observed account — compelling despite its grimness — of the lives of its semi-nomadic subjects.”
— Madeline Clements, The Times Literary Supplement
“The verbal talent of the twenty-three-year-old Petra Hůlová is in some parts of her debut, the novel All Belongs to Me. So pronounced and enchanting, it is more than nice talent — it is an extraordinary gift.”
— MF Dnes
“What magic is behind [Hůlová’s] books that makes them so easy and natural to read, as if in one breath? The main reason is people’s ages-long desire for a story: the strong support of tradition and the continuity of family lines, and the desire for a Jungian collective consciousness, which is disappearing from the hurried life of western civilisation in the shadows of forbidden pasts.”