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Twisted Spoon Press

PO Box 21 - Preslova 12, 150 21 Prague 5, Czech Republic

Book details:
The Arsonist

Czech writing

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also by the author:
Seven Times the
Leading Man

  the arsonist

by Egon Hostovský

Egon Hostovský (1908 - 1973) was one of the most distinctive and prolific figures in Czech prose. The Arsonist, published in 1935 and awarded Czechoslovakia's State Prize for Literature in 1936, explores the world of youth against the backdrop of an eastern Bohemian bordertown being menaced by fire. The elusive nature of the arsonist and the frustration of the town's residents in identifying him, as the reality of what threatens them is encoded in wind, smoke, and clouds, reveal the emptiness and inflexibility of their lives. For it is the intangible and unknown that is the real source of their terror. And fire transforms and reshapes all that come in contact with it. This is the first English translation.


What others say:

... deceptively quiet Zbečnov seethes just beneath the surface with the kind of smoldering, smothered urges eptiomized by adolescent angst. Though Hostovský doesn't reveal the firebug's face until the last chapter, this is hardly a suspense novel. The book's surface mystery story serves mostly as a mirror and backdrop for the psychological action that is its theme and emotional core. By the book's close, fire, darkness, suspicion and secrecy have twisted into a network of associations that illuminate both Kamil's troubled family and the entire town.

The Prague Post

Hostovský produced novels that were near masterpieces.

— Arne Novák

The Arsonist is a spare, elegant meditation on unseen terror, given form in random fires within a small town in eastern Bohemia as Czech and Prussian anti-Semitism erupts.

Literární noviny


ISBN 8090217109
176 pp.
13.5 x 19 cm
1 b/w drawing
fiction : novel

release date:
December 1996

out of print
new paperback edition forthcoming

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