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The Sorrowful Eyes Of Hannah Karajich

by Ivan Olbracht

Translated by Iris Urwin Lewitová, with an Introduction by Miroslav Holub

Ivan Olbracht (1882-1952) was an important Czech novelist and journalist whose other major work, set in the Sub-Carpathian region, is Nikola Suhaj, The Robber.

Miroslav Holub (1923-1998) was an outstanding contemporary Czech poet and essayist. Much of his work was translated into English, both in anthologies and individual volumes including On the Contrary and Other Poems and The Fly. The introduction to this novel was one of the last things he wrote before his death in 1998.

The Sorrowful Eyes of Hannah Karajich is a lyrical, deeply moving story of love and the pain of emancipation, set in the now vanished world of rural East European Jewish village life. Hanna is the most beautiful girl in all Polona, a Hasidic community in the remote province of Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia. Involvement in the exciting new movement of Zionism takes her away to a commune in a nearby town. But there she meets and falls in love with the strangely named Ivo Karajich: a Jew, yet not a Jew. The agonizing drama that follows, plants into her beautiful almond-shaped eyes the hard grain of sorrow that her children, too, will inherit.

Olbracht's novella is both a great love story and a marvellous portrait of a world that modernity threatened and Hitler destroyed.

"...a book like this is truly a gift. ...The story of Hannah was ranked ninth on the list of 'the century's best Czech books' in a recent poll." - Critique

"The translation by Urwin Lewitová preserves the atmosphere and tone of the original and has lost none of its power since it was first published in 1964. The introduction by Czech poet and essayist Miroslav Holub, written shortly before his untimely death in 1998 is an informative and insightful introduction to Olbracht, his post-communist literary reputation, and the Ruthenian Jews." - Slavic and East European Journal

"I greatly enjoyed reading "The Sorrowful Eyes of Hannah Karajich", which is arguably Olbracht's finest work.

...This is a haunting and unsettling story. As Hannah and Ivo return to Slovakia in his little yellow car we know that both of them have, and will always have, sorrowful eyes.

A remarkable journey, a remarkable story, and a remarkable writer complimented in this Central European University edition by a wonderful introduction by Miroslav Holub and a sensitive translation by Iris Urwin Lewitova. A very fine read."- Amazon (extract from a reader's online review)

200 pages
ISBN 978-963-9116-47-4 paperback $17.95 / €13.95 / £11.99

Published in the series:
Central European Classics / CEU Press Classics
ISSN 1418-0162