Jiri Hajicek in B O D Y

“She pouted her painted lips and was still walking toward the ballot box and her hands were now moving down again, from beneath the skirt, and I caught a glimpse of white fabric in her fingers, but I could not see more, because Táňa was standing in front of me and the ballot box on the table was blocking my line of sight from her waist down. And she bowed down, her eyes fixed on me, lower and lower, then the heels clicked twice and I was sitting on the chair riveted to the spot. I only managed to say softly: “Táňa, don’t be a fool… You know, I can only tolerate so much…” But Táňa was already standing in front of the ballot box with the state coat of arms, erect again, and in the fingers of her right hand she was holding white panties, directly above the opening in the box for the ballots.”

From “Melancholy Leaves From Democracy’s Autumn Trees” by Jiří Hájíček and translated by Gale A. Kirking, a short story published together in translation with his novel Rustic Baroque. Like the novel, Hájíček’s story is set in rural Bohemian towns challenged by an exodus of jobs and young people to Prague and beyond.

The story will be followed up on Monday with an essay by the translator going into the background of the 1950s collectivization Hájíček explores in Rustic Baroque and the specific case of the writer’s own family’s lost farmstead.

Read more Sunday European Fiction

Photo – Ballot box from 2006 Czech elections by Ludek/wikimedia commons (and I presume those aren’t posters of the candidates in the background – they exhibit far too many human features for that).

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Categories: Saturday European Fiction


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