Prague rabbi pens literary hit of season
Just a few weeks ago the author of one of this season’s biggest literary sensations - Altschulova Metoda – was a mystery, a certain Chaim Cigan, an alleged émigré to Canada who spent much of his career translating technical writing. It turns out it was only a pen name, one that didn’t last.
Atschul’s Method is the first book of a tetralogy, mixing politics, prison cells and the secret police, with the Middle Ages, Moses and Jewish history – a science fiction thriller told across continents and epochs that has drawn comparisons to China Mieville, the author of Perdido Street Station and The Scar. On Czech TV, Karol Sidon, a playwright and screenwriter by profession, admitted he was the author of Atschul’s Method.
“I was surprised at how fast I was found out. I expected that it would take a lot longer. But in the end what choice did I have but to admit it?”
Sidon opted for a pen name in order to keep his work as chief rabbi (of both Prague and the Czech Republic) separate. He makes clear he had the intention of writing a speculative or science fiction series for some time.
As stated, Atschul’s Method is the first of four books; the next two in the series are already complete and will published at a pace of roughly one per year; the final instalment has yet to be written. The full tetralogy is entitled “Kde lišky davaji dobrou noc” – translatable as Where Foxes Lay Down to Sleep – a saying in Czech that refers to a far off or lost place, a place in the middle of nowhere, the sticks. As for the name Chaim Cigan? Rabbi Sidon didn’t just make it up: the name reportedly belonged to a family ancestor.