The Czech writer with Bulgarian roots Bianca Bellová was born in 1970 in Prague. After studying at the University of Economics she worked as a translator and interpreter of English. Following a trip across India, she débuted with the novel »Green Curry«, followed by »Sentimentální román« (2009; tr: Sentimental Novel) and »Mrtvý muž« (2011; tr: Dead Man), an unusual love story that breaks all the common clichés and stereotypes of women’s literature with its brutality.
After »Celý den se nic nestane« (2013; tr: Nichts geschieht den ganzen Tag), she published her novel »Jezero« (tr: The Lake) in 2016. Bellová’s vivid parable about environmental destruction is set in a post-USSR central Asian village. There, the inhabitants suffer as they watch the lake transform into a drying cesspool, even though it is essential for survival due to the local fish cannery. The inhabitants believe in the existence of an evil sea spirit that can only be contained by throwing terminally ill people or criminals into the lake. The novel’s protagonist, Nami, can still experience a few years of carefree childhood until his grandmother dies and his house is unceremoniously taken over by kolkhoz chairmen. When his first love Zaza is raped by Russian soldiers, he goes alone to the city. There, he finds work in at a sulfur factory and must live in a squalid dorm with his fellow workers. Yet, he is driven by the desire to find his mother, of whom he only has vague memories. During his long, painful odyssey, he comes across an old woman who takes him in. When he begins to take care of her garden, he understands the meaning of future: worrying about the next day’s harvest. Nami finds his mother and returns to his village. Bellová divides her coming-of-age novel into the four chapters »Egg«, »Larvae«, »Cocoon« and »Imago« and shows how the destruction of nature also dissolves societal and social bonds. Nami tries to escape the hopelessness of this decaying society by finding his roots, pushing against traditional superstitions, diving into the polluted lake, and daring to confront the alleged spirit.
Bellová won the European Union Prize for Literature and the Czech book prize Magnesia Litera for »Jezero«. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies. She is also the author of the fictitious diary blogs Adieu-my-karenina.blogspot.com and Beckys-secrets.blogspot.com.