Author(s): Jindra Ticha
Anna has flown from New Zealand to her native Prague to nurse her dying mother. The night after the funeral she receives a phone call with the news that her husband Jan has committed suicide in faraway Dunedin. Why has Jan decided to end his life? As Anna grapples with her grief in post-communist Prague, her story is interwoven with the tale of the family's fortunes on the long voyage taking them to New Zealand 20 years previously. Fleeing the violent takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Anna and Jan found themselves in a strange new country with unfamiliar values. This had an unexpected consequence. Instead of terminating an unwanted pregnancy, Anna decided to give birth to Marie - a daughter who would go on to claim the lion's share of Jan's affection. A subtle and affecting story of change and rebirth, Death and Forgiveness shows how exile alters the pattern of a life, with aftereffects that reverberate for decades.
Jindra Tichy was born on 21 March 1937 in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). She studied philosophy and formal logic at the Philosophy Faculty at Charles University, Prague (founded in 1348). In 1958 she married Pavel Tichy. She has two children, Peter, a nurse, and Veronica, an architect. After gaining her doctorate (PhD) in 1967 she worked as a senior lecturer at the faculty of Natural Science at Charles University. One year after the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, she was fired from her university job for political reasons and, fearing persecution, managed to organize an escape to the West. For this "crime" Tichy was sentenced in absentia to a prison term in a labour camp. The sentence meant that she could neither publish anything in Czechoslovakia nor return to her country while the Communist regime was still in power. In September 1970, she emigrated to New Zealand where she still lives today. In 1972 she started to lecture at the University of Otago in Dunedin in philosophy and political science. In autumn 1989, the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia disintegrated and she was granted amnesty. She returned home for the first time on 17 November 1989, which by a stroke of luck was the very day the Velvet Revolution started in Prague. She described the revolution and the fall of communism in her first novel. She started to write fiction in exile and returned home with several manuscripts. She became a very successful writer and decided to retire from the university in 2004 to become a full time writer. So far she has published eighteen books in Czech language. In 2009 a major Czech TV network made a documentary devoted to her life and work. She is one of only handful of writers whose work was recognised in this way. In 2012 The Czech radio and television asked the Czech public to select out of two milion Czechs living in exile the most influential twenty personalities. Jindra Tichy gained 11th place on the list. In 2012 TV One in New Zealand made a close up documentary about her and Sunday Times and Otago Daily Times published articles about her.