Prague-born Karel Michal (1932–84) lived a significant part of his adult life under Czechoslovakia’s oppressive communist regime. Prevented from studying at the university as a young man, he fruitlessly cycled through a number of professions before finally turning to writing in the early 1960s. Michal’s works—which include detective fiction, historical novels, short stories, and screenplays—offer a Kafkaesque perspective on the mechanism of the absurd and argue for substantial reinterpretation of the concept of ordinary life under a totalitarian regime.
With Everyday Spooks, Michal presents an unforgettable assortment of fantastic creatures that inhabit his strange vision of everyday reality in ’50s and ’60s communist Czechoslovakia. Translated from the Czech by David Short and complemented with suitably eerie illustrations by Dagmar Hamsíková, this collection of seven short stories describes bizarre encounters where the past melts into the present, ordinary people meet comic and anxious figures and interact with ghosts, and mundane speech drifts repeatedly into absurdity.