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By Róbert Gál
Translated by David Short

Paperback ISBN: 9781628972795

Publication date: December 14, 2018

In this miniature masterpiece, Róbert Gál―whom Joshua Cohen has called “a phenomenon”―conducts a noble experiment in uncategorizable prose. One long, unbroken paragraph, blending memoir, fiction, and philosophy, Agnomia takes the reader on a transcontinental journey from Lower Manhattan to the Little Quarter of Prague, but most of all it takes the reader on a tour of the writer’s mind. Meditations on tautology, sexuality, and art culminate in an attentive evocation of a concert given by the composer and saxophonist John Zorn. For readers of Thomas Bernhard, Georges Bataille, and E. M. Cioran, Agnomia is a book to relish.

“[F]ull of words, to be sure. Words alone. What did you expect? Here we seek a home, here we build the house of language. Here we seek faith, and build a temple. The high mixes with the low, banality with philosophy, a generational account with self-centeredness, the micro-story with neologisms. The themes blend together, but they don’t concern the joyous game of imagination or automatic writing. Reality is omnipresent and bleeds into an amalgamate of the seen, the heard, and the anticipated. As with all authors of marginal literature, Róbert Gál, too, writes one book perpetually.” —Ladislav Šerý

Agnomia knows all journeys end where they begin, and by beginning evoke a return (and the lure of such redundancy), and that what it is that comes back is a kind of music, or madness, of being something someplace other than every self-recrimination you can think of, and the feeling then of the sad impossibility of a sublime inertia for things like us, trapped in our freedoms, moving all the time as a way of staying still.” —Gary J. Shipley

“Always traversing the cutting edge, Róbert Gál is one of the most fascinating, provocative, and inspiring poets writing today.” —John Zorn

Róbert Gál is a Slovak-born writer and editor living in Prague. He is the author of several books of aphorisms, fiction, and philosophical fragments available in English translation, including Tractatus (Schism Press, 2022), Naked Thoughts (Black Sun Lit, 2019), Agnomia (Dalkey Archive Press, 2018), On Wing (Dalkey Archive Press, 2015), and Signs & Symptoms (Twisted Spoon Press, 2003). Find more on

David Short taught Czech and Slovak at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, from 1973 to 2011. In addition to academic books in the fields of art, literature, linguistics, and semantics, he has translated many works by modern Czech authors, above all, Bohumil Hrabal. In 2018 he received the Jiří Theiner Award, which recognizes those who significantly help spread and promote Czech literature abroad.