Česká centra, Czech Centres

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Jan 27, 2011 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Tightrope! A Bohemian Tale

Presentation and reading of a book by Olga Walló. Original artwork and illustrations by Monika Abbott.

I believe that all readers, whatever their different cultural experiences, will find in this novel something to identify with, and I hope that, through the personal accounts of the author, they will be able to trace the complex path which our nation travelled not so long ago. --Václav Havel

Readers who enjoy good prose will find to their liking this imaginatively written and entertaining -- but essentially tragic -- novel set in the little-known 50s of the last century in Czechoslovakia. --Josef Škvorecký

A novel of unexpected originality, exceptional for its remarkably engaging testimony and its uncommonly sophisticated and refined structure and style. That the fateful year of 1948 -- after which nothing can happen because everything has already happened -- was the year of the author's birth is symbolic. The novel is set in the 1950s, the time of the author's and narrator's childhood, and everything that happens around the child is seen through her eyes. Her entire childhood is strange -- matched and in part caused by the strangeness of this tragic and bizarre interlude in our history. Much is concealed in the single sentence: Our estate, the centre of our faith for the future and any retrospective hope. The key to understanding this tale is the deep-rooted trauma arising from the collectivization of a large part of the family property. --Vladimír Karfík, RESPEKT 27, July 2007 (review of original novel in Czech)

 The narrator of TIGHTROPE, an extraordinary, curiously intellectual small girl, undertakes the demanding and costly burden of comprehending the world. Her father -- a peculiar leftist intellectual, and her mother, a neurotic actress, belonging to an old farming family -- are more or less social outcasts, who fight for survival. The situation prevailing in Socialist Eastern Europe in the period after the Second World War -- setting and inherent part of the fabric of this tale -- produces incidents which are funny, cruel, and absurd, eliciting both laughter and compassion.

A film-maker father. Mother an actress who didn't want to act her finest scene a real-life act: dressed to die defying a Nazi officer seeking the paper-less man concealed in the house. An uncle so innocent he became a slave-labourer from stubborn and ignorant idealism. A cousin who wanted the estate her grandmother willed to her. The child's eyes watching, yearning for acceptance. The silly lessons of totalitarianism indignantly asserted by the adolescent girl, in spite of her passionate logic. Many tightropes to walk in this Bohemian Tale by Olga Walló!


Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


Jan 27, 2011 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM


Czech Centre

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