Vratislav Kadlec (b. 1981) is a graduate from the Josef Škvorecký Literary Academy; he works as a translator (he is a two-time winner of the Zlatá stuha – or Golden Ribbon, the main Czech award for children’s literature – in the translation category, among others) and literary editor; he has served as editor-in-chief of the literary monthly Plav and as a leader of an amateur theatrical company.
December 2019, 176 pages
Available material: English sample
Quirky, witty short stories with touches of magical realism.
The author uses his short stories to explore different kinds of borders, blurry internal and external thresholds, and milestones in our lives from which there is no going back. A man whose name was stolen by a magpie; faces disappearing in the fog; a mysterious body behind the bathroom wall; a maritime disaster; all result from a fissure in the everyday routine – but also an inability to communicate one’s feelings to their closest loved ones; childhood injustices burnt deep under the skin, breakups hanging low and heavy like dark clouds over a summer day, attempts to scrabble for authenticity, which is running off like water between our fingers. While the protagonists’ predicaments are far from joyful, the narration does not lack in humor; here and there, the author’s sly grin peeks out between the words. Humor happens when we realize a fault which does not hurt us. But the threshold of pain itself is in its nature indistinct and ever-shifting.
“Supernatural events disrupt the protagonists’ everyday existence in a way that brings to mind another Czech writer Karel Michal or Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges.”
– ČT Art
Vratislav Kadlec comes across as a celestial phenomenon. (…) He is an uncontrollable narrative element who throws out dozens of ideas each of which could initiate a separate novel.
– Petr A. Bílek, aktualně
Kadlec leads his reader exactly where he needs to so that he can then push him into the abyss of dark fantasies, rage and cruel humour. He is often balancing on the limit of the horror genre and even more often on the border between reality and illusion.
Authenticity is a problematic term. It is a fashionable word nowadays but I am not entirely sure what it actually means. For me, truthfulness is much more important –every single drunk can be honest eventually but one must try really hard to be truthful.
– Vratislav Kadlec, ArtCafé
“Fucking plum!” swore Michal and smashed his crutch into the tree trunk. A plum fell off a branch and right into the coffee cup. The coffee splashed on an open Bible. “It’s not the tree’s fault,” Maruška objected from her green plastic garden chair. “My ass,” snapped Michal and dried the Gospel of Luke with the sleeve of his washed-out sailor tee. “Jesus made a fig tree dry just because it didn’t give any figs.”