On the off chance you haven’t figured it out yet, one reason for this series on Slovak novels in English is because Slovak literature is so poorly known in the English-speaking world. Actually, it’s poorly known pretty much anywhere outside of Slovakia; Czechs might have the only slight advantage. Some few Slovak books have been widely translated—Don’t Cry for Me, for example, and Three Chestnut Horses—but even these are hardly household names in the U.S.
If you spend any time in Slovakia itself, the one name you are sure to come across as the Bright Shining Star of Slovak literature is Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav. Like most famous artists, Hviezdoslav’s life was not nearly as Bohemian (pun intended!) as the movies and popular misconceptions would have it. He worked hard and steadily throughout a stable lifetime. Which is to say, his story would not make a thrilling subject for a novel. But in Ilona: My Life with the Bard, author Jana Juráňová takes this homely stability’s lack of intrigue and ratchets it down a notch by telling the story not of Hviezdoslav, but of his wife…Read More