An Angel’s Egg
History books give 8 May 1945 as the date when World War II officially ended in Europe. Few people know that it lasted a few days longer. Peace celebrations were already well under way, but guns rattled on the demarcation line between the American and Russian army positions as late as 12 May 1945.
The author has chosen this lesser known historical event as the backdrop to his book, a comic horror full of unbridled imagination. The book blends two story lines: in the first one, we follow the story of the book’s protagonist, Augustin Hnát: his birth and youth in the countryside; meeting his first love; the battles of the First World War, which take him to the farthest reaches of Siberia; and finally, the 12th of May, 1945. The second story line describes the fateful last day, May 12, as experienced by Augustin Hnát, from dawn till dusk. Both story lines merge in a dramatic finale where there is nothing to laugh at any more.
Inspired by Kafka, Petr Stančík dishes out a combination of carefully researched historical curiosities, poetic images and lies.
Despite all the humour, hyperbole, literary gluttony and wacky situations, An Angel’s Egg leads to such a powerful and tragic wartime finale that it will make your skin crawl.
This is playful prose, a postmodern novel which doesn’t know boundaries and yet retains its shape.