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On Flying Objects

Authors: Emil Hakl

Published by Comma Press

ISBN: 9781905583386

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A prostitute wakes up one morning to discover her boyfriend has tattooed obscene messages all over her body...

A woman tentatively goes back to her new boyfriend’s flat, only to find it packed with toy soldiers and intricately reconstructed war scenes...

A retired pilot flaunts his wealth by keeping pets in the lap of luxury — a gold chain for his goat, even stranger indulgences for his dog...

The men in Emil Hakl’s fiction are, like the title of one story, oddballs. Whether evading the expectations of adult life, or finding themselves drawn to characters they’re simultaneously repulsed by, each one holds a mirror up to the peculiar failings of masculinity. But as they carouse, argue, philosophise and binge their way through the streets of Prague, they also offer the reader stark moments of insight and pathos. Given Hakl’s flair for the surreal, his laconic sense of humour, and unflinching scrutiny of those closest to him, it’s easy to see how these stories have elevated him to the status of cult hero in his native Czech Republic.

"Europe is heavy with history in these stories and the traces left by cataclysm and upheaval — these are present in these tales, and yet coexist with a kind of wry and knowing playfulness."
A.S. Byatt, The Times

Translated from the Czech by Petr Kopet & Karen Reppin.

Emil Hakl (aka Jan Beneš) was born in Prague in 1958. After graduating from the Jaroslav Jezek Conservatorium, he worked as a copywriter and as the editor of the literary magazine Tvar. In the late 80s, Hakl founded an informal literary group called Moderní Analfabet. Hakl made his literary debut with two collections of poetry, followed shortly by a collection of stories Konec sveta [The End of the World] (2001). Since then Hakl has written a novel, Intimní schránka Sabriny Black [Sabrina Black’s Intimate Box] (2002), a novella, O rodicích a detech [On Kids and Parents] (2002), and a second collection of stories, O létajících objektech [On Flying Objects] (2004). O rodicích a detech (2002) won the distinguished Magnesia Litera Prize and has been adapted into a feature film by Vladimír Michálek.
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