But Crime Does Punish
paperback, 112 pp., 1. edition
translation: Sherwood, Julia - Sherwood, Peter
published: june 2022
recommended price: 280 czk
"So, as you see, I am familiar with the case. However, we can’t discuss it unless you learn more about some other court cases, so that you can compare your father’s trial with other, more baffling cases, and see it in the context of the madness that reigned at the time."
In Ján Johanides riveting Slovak novel, you the reader are thrust in medias res, assuming the role of a silent partner in a one-sided conversation with someone you know nothing about. As the pages turn, you must grasp onto significant details to piece together who you are, who the narrator is, and why you have sought him out. As the story unfolds you come to learn that the old archivist, who can’t seem to stay on point, has both a tragic history and the keys to unlocking your family’s darkest secret. A secret that may or may not involve the Czechoslovak secret police, American and Soviet intelligence, Israeli politics, and a tire full of 90,000 dollars.
Set after the fall of communism and the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, casual paranoia permeates the novel as it reveals how the madness of the Communist era has led to the instability of the present. Written in 1995, this haunting novel that evokes the spirit of John Le Carre and the style of Carlos Fuentes shines a searchlight on issues that plague post-Communist Europe today.