Zuzana Fuksová | trans. Alex Zucker
I first encountered Zuzana Fuksová a decade or so ago, when she was half of the Brno-based rap duo Čokovoko—popular among Czech listeners for “their earthy female perspective” and “often hilarious lyrics,” as one local journalist put it. Last winter, when I was in Prague, I noticed she had a book out, and the minute I opened it, her sense of humor grabbed me all over again.
(In a strange but true coincidence, shortly after I bought the book, a Czech ad agency emailed to ask if I was available to translate some copy Fuksová had written for a condom ad campaign. I did a couple, as a test, but didn’t get the job.)
The title of Fuksová’s book—Cítím se jako Ulrike Meinhof: Statusy a tweety (Prague: Fra, 2016; I Feel Like Ulrike Meinhof: Statuses and Tweets)—refers to Ulrike Marie Meinhof (1934–1976), the German woman who cofounded the Red Army Faction (aka the Baader-Meinhof Group or Baader-Meinhof Gang), an anti-fascist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist formation, typically branded as terrorist because of their tactics, including bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, bank robberies, and shootouts with police. The group was formed in 1970 and declared itself dissolved in 1998.
The book has a total of 324 entries; the number at the start of each paragraph below is the entry number from the book.
~ Alex Zucker
36 My grandma passed by a poster for Lenny Kravitz and said: “Ooh, Lenin’s coming.”
48 My dad offers chocolate: “Want some?” Before I have a chance to say, “No, I’m fat,” my dad: “I’m not giving you any, you’re fat.”
123 Today at the club I played CocoRosie. Skinhead bodyguard to me: “What kind of shit is that? Is that Aťka Janoušková singing or a Mongol?” Second skinhead: “It’s enough to make you puke, what cunt made that?” Me: “The women singing that travel all over the world and they make millions.” First skinhead to second skinhead: “Here we are busting our asses like stupid cunts, we should make a record too: I’ll stab you in the stomach, you scream – that’ll be the first verse. Then you stab me in the thigh, I scream – that’ll be the chorus.”
131 My dad wrote me an email. Subject: Love. Content: On the table.
150 I’m cleaning out my closet and I’d like to know whether a “person” who doesn’t work in porn needs 53 bras. And if a “person” who doesn’t work in a detective agency needs 8 trench coats.
196 Student Agency Bus, Brno-Prague line. Lady eating pineapple from a can says to another: “Go pee now, soon we’ll be in Prague and bodily functions there are expensive.”
248 Downloading Rocky IV in the university library. I feel like Ulrike Meinhof.
250 I totally underestimate animals. Came home and saw my dog in the window. Interpreted it as a suicide attempt (wouldn’t blame him) and pulled him down. And meanwhile it was just that he had diarrhea and was pooping mushrooms out the window – and on the windowsill – so he wouldn’t mess up the house. Now I understand the etymology of the word shitake.
273 The public airing of sensitive information on Facebook is a paradox. I find out from total strangers when they dug their garden, when they had a cappuccino, what they think about the death penalty, where they do yoga, that their kids are geniuses, but what I really want to know most is which of those 800 people has had anal bleaching done.
287 My dad’s nickname is “two things.”
“Sorry to bother you, I just need two things: how do I open attachments and can you do the wash?”
“Fine, but don’t you want to know how to do the wash yourself? For when there isn’t a maid around anymore?”
“What anymore? That won’t happen. And when it does, I’ll be dead. What’s that green stuff you’re pouring in there?”
“That’s laundry detergent.”
294 I went to a hair salon in Brno, to save money. Then I complained the color was totally different than what I wanted. The lady waved her hand and said: “Doesn’t matter, it’ll wash out in a month and you won’t even remember.” By that analogy you could respond the same way to complaints about any service: you’ll poop that goulash out anyway, that song will end anyway, that house will fall apart, you’re going to die anyway.
The first 78 tweets and statuses in I Feel Like Ulrike Meinhof in the Czech original can be read here.
Zuzana Fuksová (b. 1983) holds a bachelor’s degree in social work. In 2006, she and Adéla Elbel founded the rap group Čokovoko. Together, they have released two albums: Best Of (2008) and Hudba (2011). Besides rapping and social work, Fuksová also works as a copywriter and DJ. She is a Brno native, but currently lives in Prague.
Alex Zucker (b. 1964) urges everyone who reads this to familiarize themselves with the findings of the Authors Guild’s survey of working conditions for U.S. literary translators. You can read about Alex’s translation work at www.alexjzucker.com.