Hannah Weber reviews Aberrant for Necessary Fiction, commenting that: “From its opening panorama to its dire final chapters, Aberrant reads like an art-house thriller. Ripe and vivid, this first novel is a testament to Šindelka’s skill and meticulous research, as well as his honest esteem for an often ignored but ever-present natural world. One closes the book feeling fatigued and uneasy, just as intended.”
Marek Šindelka’s ‘Abberant’, translated by Nathan Fields and published at the end of April by Twisted Spoon Press, is featured in Words Without Borders’ May Watchlist.
“Think Orlean’s The Orchid Thief on acid. It’s all kinds of funky, and in the hands of a lesser writer (and translator), it could have been little more than a hot, indulgent mess. But Šindelka never loses his thread, which is saying something about a novel wherein losing the thread is part of the point. We’re on shaky ground in 2017, people, and Šindelka’s world of ‘aberrations, anomalies, and mistakes’ feels unnervingly timely, and is enormously fun in the bargain. Everyone wins.”
Publisher: Twisted Spoon Press
Translated from the Czech by Nathan Fields
Artwork by Petr Nikl
The remarkable debut novel from Marek Šindelka, already the recipient of his country’s major literary awards for poetry (Jiří Orten Prize) and prose (Magnesia Litera), Aberrant is a multifaceted work that mixes and mashes together a variety of genres and styles to create a heady concoction of crime story, horror story (inspired by the Japanese tradition of kaidan), ecological revenge fantasy, and Siberian shamanism. Nothing is what it seems. What appears to be human is actually a shell occupied by an alien spirit, or demon, and what appears to be an unassuming plant is an aggressive parasite that harbors a poisonous substance within, or manifests itself as an assassin, a phantom with no real substance who pursues his victims across Europe and through a post-apocalyptic Prague ravaged by floods. The blind see, and the seeing are blind. Plants behave like animals, and animals are symbionts with plants. Through these devices, Šindelka weaves a tale of three childhood friends, the errant paths their lives take, and the world of rare plant smuggling — and the consequences of taking the wrong plant — to show the rickety foundation of illusions on which our relationship to the environment, and to one another, rests. It is a world of aberrations, anomalies, and mistakes.