Taken from the universal Slavic word for flame, Plamen Press is dedicated to showcasing the literary talents of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe that have long been obscured from the English-speaking world. From brilliant, illuminating poetry to recent works and venerable classics, Plamen seeks to use recent advancements in publishing to shed a light on these often forgotten regions.
The Ratcatcher by Viktor Dyk and translated by Roman Kostovski
Viktor Dyk’s rendition of the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin is the standard by which all versions of the story abide in Czech literature. It presents itself in a darker, more mysterious manner than other sometimes whimsical portrayals. Dyk and Kostovski find energy in the clash between the lyrical and grim, crafting an enchanting tale of desire. There is power in the characters—to destroy, to change, to ridicule, to love—and it the knowledge of this and what one can do with their power that drives the narrative.
The Sound of the Sundial by Hana Andronikova and translated by David Short (edited and adapted by Rachel Feingold)
The Sound of the Sundial is simply a modern masterpiece. Winner of the Magnesia Litera Award in the Czech Republic, Andronikova’s tale weaves a tapestry from love, tragedy, and a search for the truth. The narrative jumps around in time and place, interspersing the childhood in Calcutta of one of the narrators (the couple’s son, Daniel) with harrowing visits to Auschwitz through the other, his mother’s friend Anna. Andronikova’s novel delves deeply into society before and after the Holocaust—how Czech communities were permanently split as a result of it. But there is much hope in the novel as well, especially during Daniel’s childhood in India. It’s a desperately beautiful work that should be read by everyone.