The good bookThe good book

Prague rabbi authors sci-fi bestseller

Karol Efraim Sidon, chief rabbi of the Czech Republic, tried to keep his authorship of popular novel a secret

Rabbi Karol Efraim Sidon in 2006 (photo credit: public domain/Wikimedia Commons)
Rabbi Karol Efraim Sidon in 2006 (photo credit: public domain/Wikimedia Commons)

Chaim Cigan is one of the hottest new authors on the Czech popular literature scene.

He’s the author of the novel “Altschulova Metoda,” or Atschul’s Method, the first of four books in a science fiction series “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,” according to Radio Praha.

Speculation grew around the identity of Cigan, a supposed émigré to Canada, once the book entered the bestseller charts in recent weeks. But the hidden identity of the Czech Republic’s popular new science fiction writer didn’t last long.

Cigan is none other than Rabbi Karol Efraim Sidon, the chief rabbi of Prague and the Czech Republic, who is also a playwright and screenwriter.

Sidon acknowledged last week in a Czech TV interview that he authored the novel.

“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?” he said.

Chaim Cigan, he said, is the name of one of his ancestors.

The cover of Altschulova Metoda.
The cover of Altschulova Metoda.

According to Radio Praha, his attempt at anonymity was intended to help separate between his communal and religious duties on the one hand and a work of popular fiction on the other.

Popular fiction seems to come naturally to the rabbi.

“Before I began writing this I couldn’t read anything but what is considered lowbrow sci-fi literature, which I really love… The story almost unraveled by itself; it was fascinating for me to watch what kind of stuff was going on in my head.”

The next two books in the tetralogy are already completed, and are reportedly slated to be published over the next two years.

The series is titled “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,” according to Radio Praha.

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