I Review “The Devil’s Workshop,” Czech Satire of Genocide Tourism

at FareForward:

In 2005 a Czech novelist writes a book, one of the rare Czech works to portray the 1968 Soviet invasion. This book tells the tale of a young orphan lad who is raised by nuns, then left to wander a militarized landscape; he’s taken in by a Soviet tank troop, but he’s haunted by Czechia, the mythical woman who embodies his homeland, and his tale reaches its climax when he finds the forest of trees carved with her image. Four years later this same author follows up with a novel, as thin and sharp as a shiv, about Eastern European countries competing for genocide tourists.

You might think you can tell what these books will feel like. The historical novel of 1968 will be heart-rending, poignant, patriotic, a kind of Ivan’s Childhood from the other side of the Soviet border. The genocide-tourism book will be acid satire, angry and merciless.

See, it’s mistakes like that that make Europeans think Americans will never understand.


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