The award-winning novel by Czech author Kateřina Tučková—her first to be translated into English—about the fate of one woman and the pursuit of forgiveness in a divided postwar world.
1945. Allied forces liberate Nazi-occupied Brno, Moravia. For Gerta Schnirch, daughter of a Czech mother and a German father aligned with Hitler, it’s not deliverance; it’s a sentence. She has been branded an enemy of the state. Caught in the changing tides of a war that shattered her family—and her innocence—Gerta must obey the official order: she, along with all ethnic Germans, is to be expelled from Czechoslovakia. With nothing but the clothes on her back and an infant daughter, she’s herded among thousands, driven from the only home she’s ever known. But the injustice only makes Gerta stronger, more empowered, and more resolved to seek justice. Her journey is a relentless quest for a seemingly impossible forgiveness. And one day, she will return.
Spanning decades and generations, Kateřina Tučková’s breathtaking novel illuminates a long-neglected episode in Czech history. One of exclusion and prejudice, of collective shame versus personal guilt, all through the eyes of a charismatic woman whose courage will affect all the lives she’s touched. Especially that of the daughter she loved, fought for, shielded, and would come to inspire.
A Note From the Publisher
“I think [Gerta] is beautiful and relevant. One of its basic themes is the expulsion of the German population from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War, but as a whole the novel carries a much broader theme that seems crucial to me today—that the mutual problems between people and nations will not be solved simply by an acknowledgment, and not even by an apology. An apology is just the beginning. We can admit our own guilt, take it on ourselves, but an even more difficult and important step, which is not spoken of so much and for which there are no laws or entitlements, is forgiveness—whether toward others or toward ourselves. For me, Gerta is a book about forgiveness.” —Alice Nellis, director of the Czech TV adaptation of Gerta (English translation by Véronique Firkusny)
Winner of the Magnesia Litera Readers’ award; short-listed for the Jiří Orten Award, the Josef Škvorecký Award, and Magnesia Litera in the prose category.
“A great book…Immediately after reading, [Gerta] is unforgettable…Although she certainly did not plan for it, Kateřina Tučková wrote a novel that should be required reading.” —Jan Hübsch, Lidovky
“The central story of Gerta Schnirch can be captured in one word, the clichéd adjective strong. Its strength lies particularly in its vivid depiction of frightful experiences immediately after World War II, experiences resembling terrible nightmares. To achieve this, the author does not need cheap effects or explicit, detailed, or shocking descriptions.” —Petr Hrtánek, iLiteratura
“The author describes, with a great writing talent and empathy for human suffering, Gerta’s life from the moment she stood at her mother’s grave in 1942…We have read of various anabases, but few are as dreadful as the one depicted with deep pity by Kateřina Tučková. And so forcefully described as if she were Gerta, experiencing it all firsthand.” —Milena Nyklová, Knižní novinky
“[Gerta] masterfully fulfills one of the potential and important functions of literature. It is a means of self-reflection for a particular community, which is the Czech nation in this case.” —Pavel Janoušek, Host