Jan Balabán – writer on fire

“You’re asking whether there can be an innocent painting? What kind of a question is that? Innocent – how?” Hans glanced at the pictures around him.
“A painting that would bear a direct relationship to reality, simply and openly, without any gimmicks, irony or hyperbole, or any other twisted perspectives,” Michal, the painter, developed his idea.

– from The Woman Terrorist by Jan Balabán

In the first part of my review of the Dalkey Archive Press’ Contemporary Slovak fiction collection I noted that another source of English translations of Central European writers was the collection the Literary Anthology of Visegrád 4 countries.

Another of the authors included in that collection was Czech writer Jan Balabán with his story “Child on Fire.”

Balabán died in his sleep last year at the age of 49. Raised in the Moravian industrial city of Ostrava his work brings a different outlook than much of contemporary Czech fiction. Very little of his writing is available in English as of yet. Besides the above mentioned story the Czech Literature portal has an extract from The Woman Terrorist.

For an excellent profile of the writer, including an interview with his brother, the artist Daniel Balabán, see Radio Prague’s recent article from its Czech Books section.

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Categories: Writers


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