GraveLarks

by Jan Křesadlo


Translated by Václav Z J Pinkava
Illustrations by Jan J Pinkava
Introduction by Michael Tate
Foreword by Josef Škvorecký
Afterword by Peter Pišťanek

Zderad, a noble misfit, investigates a powerful party figure in 1950s Czechoslovakia. His struggle against blackmail, starvation and betrayal leaves him determined to succeed where others have failed and died. Set in Stalinist era Central Europe, GraveLarks is a triumphant intellectual thriller navigating the fragile ambiguity between sado-masochism, black humour, political satire, murder and hope.

Extended edition with original illustrations by Jan Pinkava, Oscar-winning animator.

Praise & Awards

Winner of the 1984 Egon Hostovský prize.


GraveLarks successfully employs Menippean satire, characterized by a fragmented narrative, frequent shifts of stylistic register and point of view, and the wish to lampoon not so much an individual but a general state of mind … Needless to say, the novel’s relevance is not limited to a specific time and place”

— Andrei Rogatchevski, The Times Literary Supplement

GraveLarks is a quite remarkable novel – a lot of fun even, despite the sour accompanying taste. This is a wonderfully lively text, and while Křesadlo bashes the system of those times he treats it as an aberration that should be examined and understood and not simply ignored or glossed over. A fascinating work, in many respects, and a very good novel.”

— M.A.Orthofer, The Complete Review

A complex torrent of black humour mixed with rollicking slapstick clowning, of sexual exploitation mixed with warm family love, of sharp, pointed, observations mixed with bizarre and fantastic episodes reminiscent of Meyrink and Kafka.”

— John Howard, Wormwood

Original, shocking, truthful”

— Josef Škvorecký
prize-winning novelist, publisher, academic


The greatest post-war Czech writer”

— Peter Pišťanek
prize-winning novelist and cognac connoisseur

Sample