Gerta

A Novel

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Pub Date 01 Feb 2021 | Archive Date 15 Feb 2021
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Description

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.

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...


A Note From the Publisher

Kateřina Tučková is a Czech playwright, publicist, biographer, art historian, exhibition curator, and bestselling author of Gerta and The Žítková Goddesses. She has won several literary awards, including the Magnesia Litera Award (for both Gerta and The Žítková Goddesses), the Brno City Award for literature, the Josef Škvorecký Award, and the Czech Bestseller Award. Kateřina is also the recipient of the Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights Award by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, and of the Premio Libro d’Europa at the Book Fair in Salerno, Italy. Between 2015 and 2018, she was a founder and first president of the Meeting Brno festival, focusing on international and intercultural dialogue. Kateřina Tučková currently lives in Prague and Brno, Czech Republic. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages. Gerta is her first to be translated into English. In December 2020, her novel Bílá Voda will be published in Czech. For more information, visit www.katerina-tuckova.cz/en/. Born in Switzerland to Czech parents, the late pianist Rudolf Firkusny and his wife, Tatiana, Véronique Firkusny grew up in a trilingual, musical household that sparked a lifelong passion for language, literature, and music. She translates primarily from Czech to English, and her most recently published English translation is Daniela Hodrová’s novel A Kingdom of Souls, co-translated with Elena Sokol. Forthcoming publications include, in collaboration with Elena Sokol, Daniela Hodrová’s Puppets. Firkusny serves as the executive director of the Avery Fisher Artist Program of Lincoln Center and also coaches opera singers in Czech diction. A graduate of Barnard College, where she received a BA in Italian literature, she resides in New York City.

Kateřina Tučková is a Czech playwright, publicist, biographer, art historian, exhibition curator, and bestselling author of Gerta and The Žítková Goddesses. She has won several literary awards...


Advance Praise

“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


“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...


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