House of the Nine Devils: Selected Bohemian Tales
Fiction by Johannes Urzidil
Twisted Spoon Press, November 2022
Collected here and translated into English for the first time
are some of the most renowned Bohemian stories from Prague native Johannes Urzidil, a long-neglected writer whose short fiction herein spans centuries, from the bygone mythical Prague of alchemists to the late Habsburg metropolis where ethnic tensions seethed under a genteel veneer to the terror-filled days of Nazi occupation and a desperate flight to safety. Bearing his trademark wisdom, empathy, and wit, the writing often blurs the border between reportage, memoir, and fiction, such as an encounter with Gavrilo Princip, wasting away in the Terezín prison after his assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, or a WWI soldier trying to evade military police and thus disrupting a night at Café Arco, a favorite haunt of the Prague Circle that included Brod, Kafka, and Werfel, as well as Urzidil, the group’s youngest member and one of the last links to that symbiotic milieu of Prague German-Jewish artists. Translated from the German by David Burnett.