Telegram Books is an independent publisher of international fiction and a few years ago they published several themed collections featuring women writers from different countries. Povídky: Short Stories by Czech Women is the first of these collections that I have tried. I really enjoyed it and will definitely try to read more of the collections from this series.
The writers are from a wide range of backgrounds and thus the stories in the collection are very varied – some more overtly political and others more personal. Some are snippets of memoir, others are fictional fables. A list of all the writers, with titles and synopses for the stories, can be found on the Telegram website here.
My favourite story in the collection has to be ‘A Day in the Half-Life of Class 4D’ by Kateřina Sidonová, which follows a group of teenage girls as they battle with teachers, smoke in the boys’ toilets, joke and tease each other, and try to avoid humiliation, all during one day at school. I enjoyed it so much that this story alone would make the book a keeper.
I was also amused by ‘The Path of Medium Sinfulness’, by Viola Fischerová, about a little boy who struggles with the idea that animals don’t go to heaven, after the death of his pet dog, and the imaginative bargain he makes in the end. ‘How I Went to School’, by Tera Fabiánová, is a memoir about going to school as a Roma girl, which was shocking and sad but is written with enough comedy to make it easy to read.
I would recommend Povídky to readers that enjoy short fiction and that would like to broaden their horizons.