People say that the Irish and Czech senses of humour are close to each other. The novel by the great Irish-language writer Máirtín Ó Cadhain confirms this. It’s a pity Franz Kafka couldn’t read it; he would have likely cheered up. The Key is about a Dublin junior civil servant, a paper-keeper, whose life is filled with organizing papers in binders, sticking labels, or filling in forms. But when his supervisor goes on holiday one day and locks him in the office, the situation turns into a fight for life. Getting an official key is no joke: one may ask for a new one only in accordance with civil service protocols on a particular form stamped with some appropriate stamps. Will our hero make it out alive and well?
Published by Argo, 2021
Máirtín Ó Cadhain (1906–1970) was born and lived in County Connemara, Ireland, where he also worked as a teacher until he lost his job due to his membership in the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He advocated the “reclaiming of Ireland“ by promoting the indigenous Irish language and culture. He was not only one of the most important 20th-century Irish writers, but his work ranks him among the greatest authors of Irish modernism, regardless of language. His 1949 novel Dirty Dust (Cre na Cille) ((in Czech in 2017) was a particular contribution to this.