Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Literalab Names Jáchym Topol’s The Devil’s Workshop Best Book of 2013

Michael Stein of Literalab, a blog highlighting Central and East European writing, yesterday singled out Alex Zucker’s translation of Jáchym Topol’s The Devil’s Workshop (Portobello Books) as his “favorite book of 2013,” topping a list of nine in his annual Best Books post.

Stein writes:
Like my favorite book of the year before, my favorite book of 2013 delves into the ultimate horrors that man inflicts on his fellow man, but does so with a surplus of imagination, suspense and humor. Whereas Selvedin Avdić’s Seven Terrors [trans. Coral Petkovich] dealt with the war in Bosnia, Topol focuses on the genocide that took place in what is now the Czech Republic, and more extremely and lesser known to the world, in Khatyn in Belarus. More than that, he shows how the dark and still often obscure chapters of history in the former Eastern Bloc have been used and distorted by westerners for their own more narrowly personal ends. In expounding very complex and provocative ideas Topol has written a novel that has a uniquely surreal effect.

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