Map of Anna

Can this book even be called a novel in the first place? It certainly skirts traditional notions about what constitutes a novel, as it’s comprised of ten short stories, each of which can be read and understood on its own. These stories are, however, connected by a clear thematic thread, leading to a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, with characters appearing more or less prominently in each of them. In the first story, Showtime, the entertainer brings up a friend of his, a writer. This same writer turns out to be the narrator in another one of the stories, and, in turn, mentions the entertainer. These kinds of references appear in each of the episodes, so someone who is only mentioned by name in one story can end up being the protagonist of another.

Taken as a whole, the book is about love and relationships, especially between young people. Šindelka expertly showcases the pitfalls of a relationship, the minor annoyances with grave consequences, the mutual miscommunications and misjudgements. Images that people have of each other are shaped through subjective and occasionally irrational premises. A minor gesture, an innocuous remark or a particular look all play a part in this, in spite of their apparent insignificance.

Consequently, many people (or perhaps all of them) take on a certain role in order to portray a particular, deceptive image of themselves. One of the stories demonstrates this when one of the characters goes completely wild during a concert, but at the same time keeps glancing around to make sure that everyone is watching him.

The works greatest strength lies in the way that Šindelka manages to constantly put his finger on the sore spots: he accurately describes the often contradictory emotions coursing through the minds of young adults with a poetic, metaphorical use of language. And it is this command of language that elevates this book well above the average;  Šindelka’s poetic origins clearly seep through in the rich and original metaphors he uses to capture otherwise indescribable emotions. In addition, the book highlights the hypocrisy and insincerity of the modern era.

Artwork and design by Nikola Klímová:

 

What the press says:

Edge, melancholy, restrained humour: this is grand literature.

Šindelka’s sharp and restrained humorous way of formulating turns both reading and rereading this book into a great pleasure, one keeps on making marks in the margin. Please, more by Šindelka.

De Volkskrant *****

Elusive like a rare Pokémon.

Milan Kundera often peeks approvingly over his shoulder, that much is certain.

Šindelka’s novel is a capricious mishmash that is more ingeniously constructed than one would expect. The author’s skill in capturing states of mind and mood swings is what effortlessly keeps you reading.

De Morgen ****

In this original novel full of fierce cultural criticism Šindelka forges a love story with a lot of humor and the ingenious use of language.

With this novel Šindelka has given a brilliant proof of his literary abilities. He shows that some stories are really worth telling.

NRC Handelsblad ****

 

A breathtaking kaleidoscope of stories, full of mysterious riches. An extreme original book, both in style as in form, sparkling and rich, with a delicious open construction that beautifully feeds the imagination of the reader. I read it twice.

Hebban *****

Right off the bat, Šindelka shows that he can write.

It beautifully captures the zeitgeist.

De Standaard

“Anna in kaart gebracht” (Map of Anna) is a profound analysis of the current zeitgeist and is yet to find its match. In a word: brilliant.

What sense of observation, what original insight, what command of the language, what a well thought-out, supple form, what scintillating power. For someone capable of hitting the nerve of time, of man, of the world, in such a poignant way, there is no shortage of superlatives.

Tzum

Šindelka is such a clever author.

Trivial events are leading to original and amazing reflections. Indeed rather fabulous.

VPRO

A new star in the literary sky.

The way of analysing reminds us of Kundera, who also could create a character from a gesture, a pose. But Šindelka is more poetic thanks to his rich imagery.

Though “plotless” it is a whirling “story” that has surprises in store on every new page.

TSL (Tijdschrift voor Slavische Literatuur – Magazine for Slavonic Literature)

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