Ondřej Štindl (b. 1966) is a renowned journalist who currently works as a columnist for the news site and weekly 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. Reconcilement with the Czech post-war history, above all the period of normalisation, is reflected also in his artistic work. Štindl has written two novels – Mondschein (Argo, 2012), To the Frontier (Argo, 2016) and several screenplays, two of which received the Czechia‘s most prestigious film awards, the Czech Lions. In February 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. President Miloš Zeman has just been elected for his second term in office, it is freezing outside, the public is pouring its hearts out on social media, and burnt-out commentator Jan “Johan” Souček is being forced out of the newsroom of an unnamed daily newspaper. The antihero of Ondřej Štindl’s third novel is boiling with helpless frustration, anger and fear – and reading a mocking comment under one of his online articles prompts him to make a nonsensical, desperate decision. This is the beginning of a darkly grotesque story: two men from the opposite sides of the political spectrum clash and things start to unfold. Johan’s way is paved by narcissism and bitterness, disgust at his surroundings and at himself.
This work is an ode to the expressivity of the Czech language. The author has an admirable range of vocabulary and on top of that he uses the expressions functionally. Except for that Štindl’s mastery lies in his excellent narrative techniques that play a significant role as the story is quite rich.
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.”