Martin Jun

autor románů DOŽIVOTÍ (2014) a METEORIT S RODOKMENEM (2019)

The Life Sentence

This debut, “in which not a single word is meant seriously”, is sparing neither in its mentions of the work and person of a world-famous novelist of Czech origin nor in hyperbole, irony and intelligent humour. The result is a book whose unforced style is a joy to read, while its existential plot contains strong themes that urge us to reflect on a past that lives on. The novel was published by Labyrint in September 2014.



Of course it was unfair: Michal could hardly be held accountable for his own conception. The role he played in it was so slight that it was invisible to the human eye. I suppose you want to know how Michal came to be conceived. You’re pretty interest in that, aren’t you? Suddenly you’ve stopped racing on; in fact you’re prepared to go back, against the flow of time.

Well, I’m going to disappoint you. There was nothing irregular about what went on before Michal’s conception. I’d like to be able to tell you, at the very least, that the sequence of events was jumbled, but unfortunately it was straightforward: meeting, sex, impregnation. One might wonder how Michal was born out of something so commonplace. But there is one juicy detail involved, and I think you should hear about it. At the moment of communion his father believed himself to be incurably sterile, and his mother considered herself to be incapable of pregnancy. As people don’t tend to boast about such things, neither knew this information about the other. It was enough to know it about themselves. When Michal’s father climbed into bed as an infertile man, he couldn’t have cared less for the extent of Michal’s mother’s fecundity or methods of contraception.

Michal’s mother had always thought her body unreliable. It had disappointed her at every turn, and she lived with a persistent sense of foreboding that it contained some serious defect. When the gynaecologist told her of her infertility, she was reassured by the irreversible nature of the verdict. When a few years later the gynaecologist (this time with an embarrassed smile) confirmed her gravidity, she understood this as a further betrayal by her body; it couldn’t even be relied upon not to work. And the father – how did he react? Was he proud of his ability to procreate, like a real man? No, Michal’s father did not rejoice in his fatherhood. Like a real man, he had doubts about his part in the whole business.

How could it be that Michal, who wasn’t Michal yet, broke through his parents’ double security cordon, showing himself to be disobedient before he was even born? Don’t expect any medical reports here. Everything I can tell you, you can learn at primary school. Sometimes two minuses make a plus. The first to learn this equation was Michal’s mother. When one day at lunch she broke the news to her own mother, Michal’s future grandmother, that lady’s eyes opened wide, as if she had just swallowed a fish bone. And her staring eyes saw a child who was announcing that she was expecting a child of her own. Michal’s mother‘s mother was dealt a shock, which her mind absorbed by shifting the whole family on one generation.


is a graduate of the Faculty of Humanities of Charles University in Prague; he also graduated in Social and Mass Communication from Prague’s John Amos Comenius University. From 1996 to 1997 and in 2013 he studied and worked in Britain. Currently he lives close to Prague.

© 2024 Martin Jun

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