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Spaceman of Bohemia

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,800 ratings  ·  511 reviews
An intergalactic odyssey of love, ambition, and self-discovery

Orphaned as a boy, raised in the Czech countryside by his doting grandparents, Jakub Procházka has risen from small-time scientist to become the country's first astronaut. When a dangerous solo mission to Venus offers him both the chance at heroism he's dreamt of, and a way to atone for his father's sins as a Co
Hardcover, 277 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Little, Brown and Company
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Jane Actually this book did not dwell on sex at all and I found the sex well done, tender and realistic, the same for the marital problems involved in the…moreActually this book did not dwell on sex at all and I found the sex well done, tender and realistic, the same for the marital problems involved in the inability to concieve a child.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Hunter I'm not sure why he went to space. Sadly, this is a novel about a person going to space. Perhaps in the light of day you'll find other books that…moreI'm not sure why he went to space. Sadly, this is a novel about a person going to space. Perhaps in the light of day you'll find other books that exist, in which people do not go to space.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,800 ratings  ·  511 reviews

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Adam Dalva
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel - Kalfař has created something unique here, equal parts emotional love-letter to home (with all that word represents) and sci-fi thrill-ride with (possibly) hallucinated space spiders. There aren't many books that poke at their presumed genre conventions in this way, with high-literary prose mingled with outer space action and paeans to nutella. Consider this representative sequence:

Jakub, our protagonist, a space dust researcher from the Czech Republic, is dealing with emotio
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Existence runs on energy, a fluid movement forward, yet we never stop seeking the point of origin, the Big Bang that set us upon our inevitable course.

Jakub Procházka, the first Czech in space, is sent on a solo mission to collect dust from the mysterious Chopra cloud. The long journey through the cosmos gives him plenty of time to ponder the state of his marriage. His wife Lenka is getting increasingly distant during their chats. One day, Lenka goes into hiding and doesn't show up for their w
Jessica Jeffers
Jun 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book wasn't at all what I thought it would be.

I went in expecting maybe a slightly wacky space-travel tale, about the first Czech astronaut in space meeting an extraterrestrial life form while going about his mission.

What I got was a Kafka-esque, vaguely allegorical story about the first Czech astronaut in space, with lots of rumination about politics, relationships, privacy, family, and many other topics. Jakub is chosen for a mission to investigate a potentially dangerous dust cloud in
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-shelf, sci-fi
I went through some interesting stages as I read this one. I didn't really have any expectations other than a possible or rather probable literature/SF hybrid, delving deeper into the introspective and lyrical areas of space. Perhaps it could have been an oddball exploration, perhaps humorous.

As I read, I noticed the lyrical bits and there's plenty of deep characterization and family and memory going on, which seems to be the common thread for long missions in space these days, but then somethin
cristina c
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un cosmonauta del 2018 scelto per portare gloria alla Cecoslovacchia con la sua impresa spaziale e desideroso da parte sua di riscattarsi dall'ombra di un padre collaborazionista del regime comunista negli anni subito precedenti la caduta del Muro.
Una scrittura brillante ricca di inventiva e di humour, che solo nell'ultima parte si sarebbe giovata di una maggiore stringatezza.
Ha talento questo giovane ceco, naturalizzato americano dalla adolescenza, che scrive in inglese ma dimostra amore e un
I’d describe this as a cross between Everything Is Illuminated (Jonathan Safran Foer) and The Book of Strange New Things (Michel Faber). It’s the story of Jakub Procházka, a Czech astronaut who leaves his wife behind to undertake a noble research mission but soon realises he can never escape his family history or the hazards of his own mind.

In April 2018, Jakub sets out in the JanHus1 space shuttle, launched to investigate cosmic dust storm “Chopra.” Although back in Prague Jakub is seen as a na
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europa-est, fanta
”L’esistenza procede grazie alla spinta della sua energia con un fluido moto in avanti, eppure non smettiamo mai di cercare il punto d’origine.”

Praga 2018.
A Jakub Procházka, astronauta della repubblica Ceca, viene affidata una missione...

”Circa un anno e mezzo prima, una cometa fino ad allora sconosciuta era entrata nella Via Lattea dalla galassia del Cane Maggiore, inondando il nostro sistema solare con una bufera di polvere cosmica intergalattica. Tra Venere e la Terra si era formata una nu
Eric Anderson
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jaroslav Kalfar’s debut novel “Spaceman of Bohemia” has been compared to the extremely popular novel “The Martian” but Kalfar’s novel is far superior. I understand the comparison: both novels are about lone men in space whose solitary “Robinson Crusoe” style adventures find them stranded on their journeys of exploration. While it's enjoyable for some of the plot and scientific detail I thought “The Martian” mostly came across as repetitive and it's suffused with a particularly foul stench of mac ...more
Kayıp Rıhtım
Bir Astronotun Sonsuz Yolculuğu, Türkiye’deki okurlara da hitap eden bir kitap, çünkü yazarın hem ülkesine duyduğu sevgiyi hem de ülkesine serzenişini ifade ediyor. O ülkesine kızan, öfkelenen, sitem eden ama onu sevmekten ve büyük işler başardığı hayal etmekten vazgeçemeyen bir yazar.

Hikâyemiz Çekya’da başlıyor. On milyon nüfuslu bu küçük ülke, bir ilki başaracak uzay programıyla herkese o kadar da “küçük” olmadığını ispatlama derdine düşecektir. Venüs’le Dünya arasında ortaya çıkan Chopra adlı
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
* I was sent this book for free from the publisher in exchange for a review *

Sadly this book didn't really live up to the gorgeous cover and intriguing premise for me. I kept this book when it came in the post because even though I'd never heard of it the fact that it was an SF novel with a Czech author and focus made me look twice. Then I found out it was focused on a lone astronaut heading to investigate an ominous dust cloud and it sounded like it had a lot of potential.

When I started readin
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Málo scifi, hodně poutavé, čtivé, vtipné, humorné a neotřelé. Zaslouženě si kniha získává uznání po světě. Ale není to žádný Hrabal nebo Škvorecký či Kundera, jak jsem několikrát v tisku četl. Je jiný a taky dobrý. Těším se, až napíše něco dalšího.
Liviu Szoke
Până unde trebuie să mergi ca să descoperi cine ești de fapt, ce vrei de la viață și cum te văd ceilalți? Până în spațiul cosmic, lângă Venus? Și ai nevoie ca un extraterestru mucalit și curios să-ți pună întrebări ajutătoare și să te salveze de la ceea ce ai putea deveni dacă nu te aduni mai repede?
Mi se pare că nici cehii n-au scăpat încă de greaua povară a comunismului care i-a apăsat cam la fel de mult ca și pe noi și că încă mai suferă, în sinea lor, din cauza acelei moșteniri traumatizant
Ian Sanwald
Sep 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites, owned
If you blasted Albert Camus or Franz Kafka into space with nothing more than some dehydrated vittles and a brief reminder of their own mortality, I think they would be hard-pressed to produce a more earnestly clever work. Spaceman of Bohemia is a masterpiece of discovery and loss, distance and longing, self-loathing and conceit. I've described it to friends as "Andy Weir's The Martian with a Masters Degree." Jaroslav Kalfař's debut novel easily stands among the great literary absurdists, and I a ...more
Apr 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
With JanHus1 lie our hopes of new sovereignty and prosperity, for we are now among the explorers of the universe. We look away from our past, in which we were claimed by others, in which our language was nearly eradicated, in which Europe covered its eyes and ears as its very heart was stolen and brutalized. It is not only our science and technology traveling through this vacuum; it is our humanity, in the form of Jakub Procházka, the first spaceman of Bohemia, who will carry the soul of the rep
Tomáš Fojtik
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5
Příběh českého kosmonauta, který se vydal zkoumat tajemný oblak prachu vzbudil patřičnou pozornost. Nejde jen o to, že se jedná o debut, který s velkou mediální pozorností vydalo velké nakladatelství, ale také o to, že český autor napsal knihu nejdříve v angličtině a než se stihla přeložit do češtiny, nabrala oslavné ohlasy za hranicemi ČR. Ego malého národa bylo polechtáno a proto české uvedení provázel adekvátní humbuk.

Ale všichni cítíme, že dobrou knihu ještě mediální šum nestačí.

Děj se odehr
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 2017
A spaceman is sent to explore a weird cosmic event on a spaceship that Switzerland doesn't want anymore. And as we learn of the spaceman's political baggage, of his miserable, dark, childhood, it becomes clear this is the last person fit to go on such a mission. He knows things his government wants suppressed. And a few government members obviously don't want him to return at all. The point is to get this man off this Earth for good: in a way this book is the mirror image of "The Martian". On th ...more
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoy reading internationally when possible. New perspectives and all that. This may have been the first Czech author I've read. Not just that, it's very much a Czech or, really, Bohemian book, dating it further in time, closer to seeming eternal. One might expect a Martian style scifi tale, but for me this was primarily a story of a nation in general and a city, Prague, in particular pre, during and post 1989's political turbulence. Which isn't to negate the space adventure aspect of it, of c ...more
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"How unlikely. Yet here we are."

I think a saw a lot of myself in these pages and it’s left me in awe and a little bit horrified.

This is a story about space exploration, about family, about history, love and loss and revolution and revenge and acceptance and beginnings and endings and what it means to be human in a universe that we will never understand.

There’s also the occasional alien spider, but that’s just a bonus, really.

I thought this might be like Andy Weir’s The Martian but instead it’s
Tereza Eliášová
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: moje, česky
Update, trochu víc těch písmen tady:
Skvělá kniha, fakt jo! Snad dám brzo dohromady víc písmenek :D
No, tak já teda nevím - na to, jaký je kolem toho hype, tak nic moc. Je pravda, že o českých autorech se v NYT či WSJ běžně nepíše, a to navíc ještě pochvalně, ale je sporné, zda se dá Kalfar vůbec považovat za českého autora (v USA žije větší část svého života, knížka je napsaná anglicky a překlad do češtiny není z pera autora, ale od Veroniky Volhejnové). A věřím tomu, že pokud by se tohle nepodávalo jako velký úspěch českého autora (už jen to jméno s diakritikou na obálce, kterou autor nikde ...more
Michael Cayley
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
On the face of it, this is a tale of a Czech astronaut, Jakub, sent on a mission in the near future to investigate a dust cloud that has settled between Earth and Venus. There are flashbacks to his troubled childhood and youth as the son of someone who worked for the secret police of the former communist regime, and to the marriage he has left behind. On the mission he encounters a strange extra-terrestrial.

But this is a subtle multi-layered novel. It is also an account of emotional loss; of a n
Ivana Nešić
E znate šta bi bilo lepo?

Bilo bi lepo da ljudi prestanu da koriste fantastiku kad žele nešto da kažu, a ne znaju kako to da kažu.

Ovde je autor npr želeo da kaže da je Češka lepa zemlja, s bogatom istorijom, da je praška ulična hrana dobra i raznovrsna, da je Jan Hus bio super, da astronomski sat vredi videti, da je Staropramen pivo (ne znamo da li je dobro, ali definitivno saznajemo da je pivo), da je komunizam baš baš veliko zlo, a i da Rusi generalno nisu ništa bolji, a i svi političari kad-t
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
нещодавно мені розповіли історію про польського антиклерикального поета, якого в селі, звідки він походить, вирішили анатемувати. але щоб відлучити когось від церкви, для початку треба, щоб той хтось був до церкви прилучений, а поет виявився нехрещений. тому добрі селяни анатемували його маму, аби світлий намір не пропадав.
забудьмо про те, що з точки зору канонічного права це суцільна нісенітниця. для поетової мами ситуація виявилася дуже справжня: з нею відмовилися спілкуватися, вона опинилася
Paul Fulcher
May 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
Spring of 2018. On a warm April afternoon, the eyes of the Czech nation gazed from Petrín Hill as space shuttle JanHus1 launched from a state-owned potato field. The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra wafted the national hymn between the city’s Gothic towers, accompanying the countdown until, finally, the crowd gasped as the shuttle sucked and burned its cryogenic propellant and exploded upwards, all nine million kilograms of it, give or take the eighty kilograms of its single human inhabitant.

Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: czech-literature
Kosmonaut z Čech, to pro mě bylo moc příjemný čtení. Líbily se mi odkazy na (nejen) českou historii a zajímavosti o naší zemi. Navíc to bylo i vtipné - už to, že samotný kosmonaut Jakub Procházka startoval se svou lodí z brambořiště za Petřínem mi přišlo mile úsměvné. Mimozemský pavouk Hanuš, tajně ujídající po nocích Nutellu, to už jen završil. Kniha je neuvěřitelně čtivá, jazyk jednoduchý a zároveň schopný popsat vše do detailu. Vyskytuje se zde motiv samoty a odcizení od společnosti, trochu p ...more
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kniha Kosmonaut z Čech mě velice mile překvapila - nejen, že příběh celé knihy dokonale plyne a vy nemůžete přestat číst (protože potřebujete vědět, co se bude dít dál), ale ocenila jsem především myšlenky, které se v knize skrývaly (některé jsem si dokonce musela i označit a to já dělám opravdu jen výjimečně).
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a wonderful surprise! There is something in this inventive book for everyone.

The story weaves between Jakub as an astronaut from the Czech Republic and his quest to investigate a purple cloud of cosmic dust with the history of his father as a Communist collaborator and the repercussions on the family.

There is some beautiful writing here, and while I much preferred the first half of the book and the conversations (or not) with Hanus, it captivated my imagination and I look forward to more
Gumble's Yard
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Quirky and ambitious if uneven debut novel by a Czech born writer who emigrated to America at 15. Probably best described as a deeply original cross between early-era Kundera (in particular The Joke), escapist science fiction (for example The Stainless Steel Rat) and American modernist literary novels (for example Everything Is Illuminated).

With JanHus1 lie our hopes of new sovereignty and prosperity, for we are now among the explorers of the universe. We look away from our past, in which we wer
Die Haselnuss der Erde für den haarigen Begleiter im Universum

Schon das Cover und der Titel haben mir den Mund wässrig gemacht bzw. natürlich eigentlich eher die Augen - und ich wurde nicht enttäuscht! Den Autor des Buches werde ich mir merken; ich hoffe sehr, dass da noch mehr von ihm kommt.
Eine Reise ins All auf die Beine zu stellen ist schon eine Herkulesaufgabe für sich, wenn es dann aber noch ein mehr oder weniger kleines Land betrifft, das sich noch nie in Sachen Weltraumforschung großarti
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Jakub Prochazka, professor of astrophysics and researcher of cosmic space dust is on a mission for the nation of Bohemia. A sandstorm of intergalactic cosmic dust between Earth and Venus has compromised the night sky.

On a solo eight month mission aboard the space shuttle JanHus 1, Jakub will try to collect microscopic samples of dust to study and analyze for other life forms. Jakub's journey is one of glory for newly democratic Bohemia as well as redemption for his father's collaboration with th
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“There are two basic coping mechanisms. One consists of dreading the chaos, fighting it and abusing oneself after losing, building a structured life of work/marriage/gym/reunions/children/depression/affair/divorce/alcoholism/recovery/heart attack, in which every decision is a reaction against the fear of the worst (make children to avoid being forgotten, fuck someone at the reunion in case the opportunity never comes again, and the Holy Grail of paradoxes: marry to combat loneliness, then plunge into that constant marital desire to be alone). This is the life that cannot be won, but it does offer the comforts of battle—the human heart is content when distracted by war.

“The second mechanism is an across-the-board acceptance of the absurd all around us. Everything that exists, from consciousness to the digestive workings of the human body to sound waves and bladeless fans, is magnificently unlikely. It seems so much likelier that things would not exist at all and yet the world shows up to class every morning as the cosmos takes attendance. Why combat the unlikeliness? This is the way to survive in this world, to wake up in the morning and receive a cancer diagnosis, discover that a man has murdered forty children, discover that the milk has gone sour, and exclaim, 'How unlikely! Yet here we are,' and have a laugh, and swim in the chaos, swim without fear, swim without expectation but always with an appreciation of every whim, the beauty of screwball twists and jerks that pump blood through our emaciated veins.”
“How unlikely! Yet here we are.” 6 likes
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