Spaceman of Bohemia (Hardcover)
If Kafka had been a happier person and had lived to see the space age, he might have written something like this book. When a mysterious cloud appears in space, Jacob, a young Czech astronaut, is sent out to investigate. Thrust into the spotlight as a national hero, Jakub must grapple with his country’s troubled past, his strained marriage, and his uncertain future. Oh, and he meets a maybe-hallucinatory alien spider named Hanuš, who guides Jakub through the cosmos and his childhood memories.
A book more about love, regret, and the burdens of the past than about space travel or science fiction, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found in this wonderful debut novel.
-Recommended by Will— From May 2017 Staff Picks
"A frenetically imaginative first effort, booming with vitality and originality . . . Kalfar's voice is distinct enough to leave tread marks."-Jennifer Senior, New York Times
Shortlisted for the Center for Fiction's 2017 First Novel Prize
New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Best New Fiction -- Wall Street Journal
An intergalactic odyssey of love, ambition, and self-discovery Orphaned as a boy, raised in the Czech countryside by his doting grandparents, Jakub Prochazka has risen from small-time scientist to become the country's first astronaut. When a dangerous solo mission to Venus offers him both the chance at heroism he's dreamt of, and a way to atone for his father's sins as a Communist informer, he ventures boldly into the vast unknown. But in so doing, he leaves behind his devoted wife, Lenka, whose love, he realizes too late, he has sacrificed on the altar of his ambitions. Alone in Deep Space, Jakub discovers a possibly imaginary giant alien spider, who becomes his unlikely companion. Over philosophical conversations about the nature of love, life and death, and the deliciousness of bacon, the pair form an intense and emotional bond. Will it be enough to see Jakub through a clash with secret Russian rivals and return him safely to Earth for a second chance with Lenka? Rich with warmth and suspense and surprise, Spaceman of Bohemia is an exuberant delight from start to finish. Very seldom has a novel this profound taken readers on a journey of such boundless entertainment and sheer fun.
About the Author
Jaroslav Kalfar was born and raised in Prague, Czech Republic, and immigrated to the United States at the age of fifteen. He earned an MFA at New York University, where he was a Goldwater Fellow and a nominee for the inaugural E. L. Doctorow Fellowship. He lives in Brooklyn. This is his first novel.