Boat Number Five
RUNNER-UP at the EBRD Literature Prize 2022
Longlisted for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize 2022
Emotionally neglected by her immature, promiscuous mother and made to care for her cantankerous dying grandmother, twelve-year-old Jarka is left to fend for herself in the social vacuum of a post-communist concrete apartment-block jungle in Bratislava, Slovakia. She spends her days roaming the streets and daydreaming in the only place she feels safe: a small garden inherited from her grandfather. One day, on her way to the garden, she stops at a suburban railway station and impulsively abducts twin babies. Jarka teeters on the edge of disaster, and while struggling to care for the babies, she discovers herself. With a vivid and unapologetic eye, Monika Kompaníková captures the universal quest for genuine human relationships amid the emptiness and ache of post-communist Europe. Boat Number Five, which was adapted into an award-winning Slovak film, is the first of two books that launch Seagull’s much-anticipated Slovak List.
Monika Kompaníková's & translator Janet Livingstone read an excerpt from Boat Number Five. Watch here.
‘Writers whose languages are “small” are at huge disadvantage.’—Click here to read an interview with Monika Kompaníková on News9 Live.
‘Boat Number Five is one of two books that Seagull Books has chosen to launch their Slovak List, introducing a unique prose stylist whose work serves to enrich Anglophone readers’ understanding of Slovakia. Bypassing stereotypes and delineating universal human ideas of love, care, and wish fulfilment through compelling storytelling, Kompaníková’s work is a powerful study of trauma, distilled in a single individual search for genuine, human connection.’—Georgina Fooks, Asymptote. Read the full review here.
Praise for the Slovak original:
‘[A] powerful story benefiting from creating tension and teasing readers’ expectations. Monika Kompaníková uses her skills of observation and emphasis on the detail, which are attributes of a real writer’s gift and preconditions of creating a brilliant novel. . . . [A]longside the storytelling this is an experimental psychological study reminiscent of books such as Golding’s Lord of the Flies.’—Anasoft Litera Award jury, awarding the original of Boat Number Five (2011)
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