Ondřej Štindl (b. 1966) is a renowned journalist who currently works as a columnist for the news site and weekly paper Echo 24. In his texts, like those of other members of the revolutionary generation, the starting points and legacy of the Velvet Revolution are an ever-present given. Reconciling with Czech post-war history, above all normalisation, also occupies his artistic work. Štindl has written two novels, Mondschein (Argo, 2012) and To the Frontier (Argo, 2016), as well as several screenplays, two of which received Czechia‘s largest film award, the Czech Lion. In February of 2020 he received the prestigious Ferdinand Peroutka Award for the Journalist of the Year.
AWARDED THE PRESTIGIOUS FERDINAND PEROUTKA PRIZE FOR THE JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR 2020
February 2020, 256 pages
Available material: English sample
A world where embarrassment is certain, and catharsis is only a vague possibility.
Czechia, January 2018. It is freezing outside, President Miloš Zeman has just been elected for his second term in office, the public is pouring its hearts out on social media and burned-out commentator Jan “Johan” Souček is being forced out from the newsroom of an unnamed daily newspaper. The antihero of Ondřej Štindl’s third novel boils with helpless frustration, anger and fear. Reading a mocking comment on one of his articles prompts him to make a nonsensical, desperate decision. Thus begins a darkly grotesque story: two men from opposite sides of the political spectrum clash, and tumult commences. Johan’s way is paved by narcissism, bitterness, disgust at himself and loathing of his surroundings.
This work is an ode to the expressivity of the Czech language. The author has an admirable range of vocabulary, and he deploys expressions functionally. Besides this, Štindl’s mastery lies in his excellent narrative techniques as applied toward a rich story.
Actually, I would perceive it as a loss if someone felt strengthened in their certainties and attitudes after reading my prose as I sometimes felt quite uncertain myself when writing it.
– Ondřej Štindl
“Somewhere in the darkness ahead of him there was a door, all he had to do was reach for it. Johan didn’t see a reason to do so; he sat motionless, as if sealed in jet-black jelly. Like a king on a porcelain throne, holed up in a cubicle deep in the belly of the publishing house headquarters. Quiet and forgotten. Only this old house still noticed him. Showed him that he’s used up the appropriate shit-taking time. It sent a command to the timed switch: Lights off. Because Johan’s not supposed to be there anymore. Not supposed to keep sitting around on the toilet, to empty his head instead of his bowels. We will not support this. This behavior will not be tolerated. Hence, click. Darkness. Get up and fuck off.”