Hours of Lead | Deutschlandfunk

REVIEW.

Marko Martin: Radka Denemarková: „Stunden aus Blei“ Die Unumerziehbaren. Deutschlandfunk, 30. 1. 2022.

A Czech writer gets caught in the middle of the corrupting web of relationships of a surveillance dictatorship in Beijing. And encourages a young student to critically question and resist.

The protagonist of Radka Denemarková’s novel Hours of Lead is a Prague writer who has published a travelogue about China and then travels to the country again several times. She quickly becomes acquainted with the censorship there, but also discovers that she herself – with the best of intentions, out of naivety, perhaps out of ignorance – had previously fallen into the trap of culturalist clichés.

“The travelogue appears truncated, neutered. The writer has the ominous feeling that she wrote it with her hands tied together. With a lead weight around her wrist. She has written about landscapes and mountains, about the thousand-year-old culture, the summer palaces and poetry of ancient China. (…) She has written about Buddhist temples; the goal is nirvana, the disappearance of every wish and every desire to create something new, blissful nonentity, every violence roils the world mirror and contaminates karma.”

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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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Photo by Soňa Pokorná