Three Anthologies of Czech Writing in English

Allskin and Other Tales
Allskin ab11
Allskin and Other Tales by Contemporary Czech Women, ed. Alexandra Büchler, Women in Translation 1998(Seattle); ISBN: 1879679116, 220pp.

'It took the insider-outsider mentality of the editor of the collection to recognize the need to bring women's voices into a translated canon dominated not just by male writing, by often by very sexist male writing. Allskin is an impressive first foray into new literary ground, a non-judgmental attempt to show what's out there.'

From Andree Collier-Zaleska's review in The Prague Post, (August 1998).

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Allskin and Other Tales is the first anthology of fiction by Czech women to appear in English translation. Readers familiar with Czech writing in translation will recognize the characteristic features: its inclination toward the fantastic, the absurd, the grotesque and the surreal, its penchant for political allegory and satire, its sense of irony and black humour, its lopsided view of reality. It is a paradox that much of modern Czech fiction owes its richness and stylistic innovation to the fact that from its beginnings it developed under the watchful gaze of generations of censors serving repressive regimes that knew the power of the word in a culture where writers held a privileged position as social and political commentators. The stories in this anthology claim the same legacy, but the women who tell them often work from different premises, employ different strategies and develop different aspects of the shared literary tradition, drawing on a much broader tradition of storytelling that encompasses myth, legend and märchen and on folk culture with its belief in magic and the supernatural.

Here the slightly fantastic and often ironic style of Czech literature has merged with post-modern consciousness to create texts that question identity and history, and that also spin new fairy tales from old, as in Daniela Fischerová's story, Allskin Dances on Tables, taken from the folk tale of a girl who dresses in animal skins to hide her beauty. In 'Talibe', expatriate Iva Pekárková tells the story of a Czech woman cab driver in Manhattan who marries another immigrant from Africa for a green card, and perhaps for love. 'Between Us Girls' is a chilling and witty story of an unusual pregnancy told by noted science fiction author Eva Hauser, while Teresa Bouková takes on the subject of infertility in post-Chernobyl Central Europe in the haunting 'A Woman from the region of Tyre'.







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