Vratislav Kadlec (b. 1981) is a graduate from the Josef Škvorecký Literary Academy. He works as a translator and editor. He is a two-time winner of the Zlatá stuha (Golden Ribbon), the main Czech award for children’s literature. He has served as editor-in-chief of the montly literary journal Plav, and as leader of an amateur theatrical company.
THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS LITERARY AWARD (BEST FICTION DEBUT)
December 2019, 176 pages
Available material: English sample
Quirky, witty short stories with touches of magical realism.
Kadlec’s short stories explore a variety of borders: blurry thresholds internal and external, and milestones in our lives from which there is no going back. A man whose name was stolen by a magpie; faces disappearing in fog; a mysterious body behind a bathroom wall; a maritime disaster… All of the scenarios result from fissures in everyday routine – but also the inability to truly communicate with one’s closest friends. Childhood injustices burn deep under the skin, breakups hang low and heavy as dark clouds over a summer day, and authenticity streams away past 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. Humor occurs when we notice a fault which does not hurt us. But the threshold of pain is itself 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 often balances 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 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.”