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on 19 May 2002
City, Sister, Silver sucks you into its whirlwind world of sex, tribalism, criminality and dodgy dealings right from the first lines and never allows you out of its grip until every word has been read. Beginning in the early years of the 1989 revolution in Czechslovakia, when 'time exploded', we follow Potok, the protagionist, and his gang through their entrepreneurial dealings, violence and a number of trips, some real, most, such as a harrowing visit to a Nazi concentration camp, drug induced. However, ultimately, we follow Potok on his journey to find his 'sister'. The novel was, afterall, titled 'Sister' in the original. He finally finds Cerna, only to lose her again and be reunited in one of the most powerful images I have ever read.
Considering the book was famed for its 'stream of consciousness', heavily colloquial and highly inventive style in the original, it comes across surprisingly well in the translation. At first glance, the language can appear overly slangy, but the ear adjusts soon enough. The book consistently holds up speed and momentum, and remains thoroughly absorbing as Potok literally spews out his words on the page like a stream.
Although at times a little confusing, what makes the book so great is its ability to capture the very essence of the younger generation during the transition; the chaos, the confusion and the uncertainty. Though darker, cruder and more gruesome than works of the Czech nation's previous generation, the book retains an inner beauty the others cannot find. While they were almost guided by a kind of historical determinism, one gets the impression that Topol's characters would be how they were irrespective of the time or country they lived in, and the cure to all their ills, their saviour, comes in the purest form of all: love.
It is most certainly an unforgettable reading experience.
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on 12 September 2014
Though Biased. Love Jachym Topol,s Writing. Have Some Friend,s. Who Found this Hard Going. Have Most of His Book,s. Yes, the Book is Very Dark in Nature. Though there is Humour. The Narration from Auschwitz, Very Funny. Book Travels from Prague, Covering the German,s Leaving. Touch,s on Berlin, Vietnam & Chernobyl. About People who Descend to the Very Depth,s. Though there is Alway,s Hope. Good Story Teller.
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