Vladimír Páral's black comedies of the human condition deftly mix farce and pathos in a way that is both powerful and enjoyable. The third of his well-received novels to appear in English, Lovers & Murderers is about the ongoing war between those who have and those who want to have what the others have. The have-nots see themselves as poor victims trying to get for themselves what is justly theirs. But when the have-nots become haves, they continue to see themselves as victims of the hordes baying for what is justly theirs, and they have neither the energy nor the security to enjoy what they have obtained.
The novel takes place in the microcosm of a small apartment building. The young people who share rooms in the building scheme to get what they're after: form short-lived alliances, petition, frighten, marry, become pregnant, anything that might work. Lovers & Murderers presents Páral's vision of mankind caught in a cyclical process in which ideology pales before the pettiness, cruelty, and self-justification of human nature.
What truly sets Páral's novels apart is their style and structure. Repetition, myriad details, and long, breathless, rhythmic sentences characterize his style and take the reader for an exhilarating, unforgettable ride.
Vladimír Páral is the author of over twenty novels, two of which – Catapult and The Four Sonyas – have previously appeared in English translation, to great acclaim. He lives in Marianské lázne, but spent most of his adult life in Ústí nad Labem, the northwestern Bohemian town where his novels take place.
Craig Cravens teaches at Indiana University.
$27 hardcover, 409 pages, ISBN