Abu Dhabi, UAE – The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), through Kalima Project for Translation, has published the Arabic edition of the novel Destruction (Destrukce) by young Czech author Stanislav Biler, translated to Arabic by Egyptian translator Dr. Amr Shatory.

The novel won the prestigious Magnesia Litera in 2022, awarded annually to the most outstanding literary work by the Czech literary association.

Setin a village in the remote Czech countryside, known for its enchanting and captivating nature, the events of the novel revolve around the relationship between a teacher – the protagonist – and the village, exploring the nature of social and family relationships in the countryside and the impact that the industrial revolution and technological development has had on these communities. The novel asks whether the teacher is welcome in the village to fulfil his assigned role.

The novel narrates the journey of the teacher who went to the countryside to work as a schoolteacher but did not find the tranquillity that had long eluded him in the city. Instead, he found chaos and, instead of life, he found death. The countryside’s nature had been destroyed, the wells dried up, the forests withered, and the crops died in the fields, all because a factory had been set up in the area, causing its destruction.

The villagers saw the truth clearly before them but feared losing the jobs and benefits provided by the factory, leading them to speak in incomprehensible words and offer unconvincing justifications for the village’s destruction. As a result, the characters in the novel repeat meaningless phrases like poorly programmed robots. What is the illness afflicting these characters? Biler believes it is a crisis of rationality, of finding meaning in events and in life itself.

Upon arriving at the village, every action the teacher made was criticised, his every move was watched, leading him to lose confidence in himself and causing confusion, disarray, and imbalance. This is reflected in the random chapter arrangement of the novel, with chapter numbers appearing in a non-chronological and disorderly manner.

The novel’s author Stanislav Biler was born in the Czech Republic in 1982 and also works as a journalist. A sociologist by training, he studied sociology, international relations, and European studies at the Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. His writings have been published in several media outlets, and he has also worked as a scriptwriter for Czech television. Biler co-founded the satirical movement Long Live Brno and contributed to the topographic guide to Brno titled This Is Brno. His works include his first novel The Best Candidate in 2017 and 111 Places to Visit in Brno in 2020. In 2023, he won the OSF Journalism Award for the best journalistic article of 2022.

The book’s translator Dr. Amr Ahmed Shatory is a professor of Czech and head of the Czech Language Department at the Faculty of Al-Alsun at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt. He received his Ph.D.  from the Department of Languages and Literature at Charles University in the Czech Republic in 1999, and has translated several Czech literary works into Arabic, including the novel Immortality and the play The Owners of the Keys by Milan Kundera; the novels Case Closed and The Opportune Moment by Patrik Ouředník; The Devil’s Workshop by Jáchym Topol; The Year of the Rooster by Tereza Boučková; Prague Crimes by Miloš Urban, and The Case Is Not Closed Yet by Michal Sikora, among others.