Year of publication: 2005
Published by: Petrov (2005); Druhé město (2012)
Buy the book: Kosmas
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Theatre director Petr Buch returns to Prague after decades in German exile to stage a new play by Birgit Stadtherrová, anxious to find out how she discovered his darkest secret.
Aging star theatre director Petr Buch returns to Prague after decades in German exile to stage a keenly anticipated new play by celebrated playwright Birgit Stadtherrová. As lines in the play reawaken painful memories from his past, Buch – whose father had been a feared secret police interrogator in the 1950s – is anxious to meet the writer and find out how she discovered his darkest secret.
Pragmatic theatre dramaturg Klamová uses every trick in the book to placate the increasingly impatient Buch and entice the neurotic Birgit out of her seclusion. She enlists the playwright’s self-sacrificing, sweet-natured stepsister Johanka but Birgit stubbornly refuses to come to the theatre, switching off her phone and reliving her traumatic childhood and abuse suffered at the hands of her cruel mother. Will the two protagonists ever meet? Will the ill-fated play ever open?
Radka Denemarková, herself a playwright who had also worked as dramaturg at the famous Theatre on the Balustrade in Prague, channels her own experience of the theatre to depict the agonies suffered by creative artists, debunk the cult of star directors and poke fun at petty rivalries among prima donna actors. Their shenanigans are juxtaposed with the painstaking work of hard-working staff behind the scenes whose empathy and patient diplomatic efforts gently steer the creative chaos to a triumphant opening night.
2005 Europäisches Festival des Debütromans (European Festival of Novel Debuts) in Kiel, Germany
- Hungarian edition: Ki dörömböl? Translated by Körtvélyessy Klára. Európa, Budapest 2007.
- Slovenian edition: Jaz pa vprašam, kdo to tolče. Translated and afterword (Česa se človek boji?) by Tatjana Jamnik. KUD Police Dubove, Vnanje Gorice 2013.
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