Nominated by:

Regional Library of Karviná, Czech Republic

Municipal Library Třinec, Czech Republic

Publisher of nominated edition:

Portobello Books, UK

The Devil’s Workshop

Jáchym Topol      

Translated from the original Czech by Alex Zucker

2015 Longlist

‘The devil had his workshop here in Belarus. The deepest graves are in Belarus. But nobody knows about them’

A young boy grows up in Terezín – an infamous fortress town with a sinister past. Together with his friends he plays happily in this former Nazi prison, scouting the tunnels for fragments of history under the careful eye of one of its survivors, Uncle Lebo, until one day there is an accident, and he is forced to leave.

Returning to Terezín many years later, he joins Lebo’s campaign to preserve the town, but before long the authorities impose a brutal crack-down, chaos ensues, and the narrator finds himself fleeing to Belarus, where fresh horrors drive him ever closer to the evils he had hoped to escape.

Bold, brilliant and blackly comic, The Devil’s Workshop paints a deeply troubling portrait of two countries dealing with their ghosts and asks: at what point do we consign the past to history?

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Jáchym Topol is the leading Czech author of his generation. Famous in his youth as an underground poet and songwriter, since the Velvet Revolution he has written the books that have most successfully and imaginatively captured the dislocation brought about by the fall of communism. His novels include Gargling with Tar, which was published by Portobello in 2011, The Devil’s Workshop and most recently Nightworks.

About the Translator

Alex Zucker is a translator from the Czech language who lives and works in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  His most recent translation, The Devil’s Workshop by Jáchym Topol, received an English PEN Award for Writing in Translation, the Typographical Translation Award, and was named on the Fiction Longlist for the Best Translated Book Award. He also works in editing and nonprofit communications.

Librarian’s Comments

Jáchym Topol has received many book and writer’s prizes. His books are acclaimed by critics and readers. The Devil’s Workshop is about a young boy who grows up in Terezin, an infamous fortress town with a sinister past. The English translation of The Devil’s Workshop received the 2013 English PEN Award for Writing in Translation.

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