Chinese, Czech, dystopian | Jungle World


Niklas Lämmel: Chinesisch, tschechisch, dystopisch. Jungle World, 17. 2. 2022, p. 25.

Do the powerless have the possibility to change the prevailing conditions? Radka Denemarková explores this question in her novel “Hours of Lead” set in China.

“A spectre is haunting Eastern Europe: the spectre of what in the West is called ‘dissidence’,” wrote the Czechoslovakian playwright Václav Havel in 1978 in his essay “Attempt to Live in Truth”. Under the political conditions prevailing at the time, however, he asked himself whether the state socialist system could be challenged by its citizens at all. Or to put it more optimistically: whether there was a “power of the powerless”.

The Czech author Radka Denemarková takes up this question again in her monumental novel “Hours of Lead”, which was recently published in German translation. In the 21st century, however, the spectre of dissidence is haunting China, and the question of whether there are any possibilities for action at all for the individual in an authoritarian state becomes even more desperate.

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Radka Denemarková: Stunden aus Blei. Novel. Translated from Czech by Eva Profousová. 880 pp., hardcover, EUR 32,90 (Verlag Hoffmann und Campe, Hamburg)

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