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22/09/2010

Jan Faktor's novel "Georg's Concern about the Past"

Jan Faktor: "Georg's Concern about the Past" (Georgs Sorgen um die Vergangenheit )

Kiepenheuer & Witsch

English excerpt


The book: Georg grows up in Prague's most beautiful neighbourhood, in a household abuzz with women. But this is the time of political terror, above-ground nuclear tests and later the reform attempts of '68. Caught between war-traumatised aunts, a tyrannical uncle and a dazzlingly beautiful mother, all he wants is to escape to a new future.

Socialist Prague has lost the splendour of Georg's youth. In a city full of violent binmen, 50-ccm motorbike cowboys, sex-obsessed adulterers and many other unsocialist elements, Georg takes every possible opportunity to break out. He experiments with highly explosive substances, hangs out with groups of rowdy youths and eventually finds a lover within his own family. In a society that is crumbling at the edges and dissolving from within, sex takes on a liberatingly subversive meaning. Georg musters all his energy to escape not only his mother but also his clingy father, with whom he has to spend his dreaded weekends. As he experiences the country's cultural decline after the occupation and comes into contact with Prague's dissident scene, a former intellectual, who hides his blindness, becomes his pseudo-father.
Since early childhood, Georg has worried about his past, but he is quite confident he will have a bright and happy future. The question as to whether he will really be happy is answered when he has a chance – and not really avoidable – encounter on the street.

By allowing Georg to talk himself, Jan Faktor brings together a coming-of-age and social novel. An extremely-sharp witted psychograph of a family and a clear-sighted portrait of a city.

The author: Jan Faktor, born in Prague in 1951, abandoned his computing studies and took on a variety of jobs in Prague and Slovakia. He completed a university course and worked as a computer programmer in Prague. In 1978, he joined his wife in East Berlin, working as a kindergarten teacher, mechanic and translator. Until 1989, he was active almost exclusively in the alternative literature scene. Jan Faktor's experimental articles from this period were published by Aufbau Verlag in 1989, when he also became a member of the Bielefeld Colloquium Neue Poesie. In the 90s, his work was published by Gerhard Wolf Januspress. His debut novel "Schornstein" was published in 2006. He was awarded the Alfred-Döblin Prize for the novel's manuscript.

Photo © Susanne Schleyer / autorenarchiv.de

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