Saturday, February 9, 2019

Vreemdeling zoekt kamer (Stranger seeks accomodation)


This Czech novel, translated into Dutch, hasn't been translated into English yet. That's why I added my translation to it. Of course writing a review in english of a book not (yet) available in that language may be strange, but since I don't discriminate I'll serve my opinion just the same.

The novel is set in New York, winter 1945, and revolves around Marek, a Czech doctor trying to finish a literary work. In order to do that he needs a room where he can quietly work.
And that's just the problem. Everywhere he ends up he seems to upset the people granting of renting him a room. Be it his overly kindness and understanding, his lack of dirty secrets or the fact that his seemingly good character shames others, he is unable to stay long in each of his rooms because of a culmination of these factors of which he understand nothing.

His goodness and kindness act as a spotlight upon the blemishes in character in the people he meets, whereupon they cast him away or make him impossible demands. In the end he dies alone and is celebrated among his peers as being a brilliant doctor.

Behind the words and the scenery of New York you sense the biblical story of the Son who is sent down to see if people deserve eternal peace. He telephones with the Virgin Mary and even says that he has the choice to go back and be at peace instead of toiling among ungrateful humans who blame him for their own mistakes and shortcomings.


I read this novel in a day or two. It's not too long and it held my attention well enough, but it didn't spark anything more. Still, it's worth the time, if it ever finds its English translation.