"The Toy is about sex, only about sex and just about sex... and also about love and obsession and manipulation."
The Toy is a debut novel that was published in the Czech Republic in the autumn of 2007. The book was officially launched on 27th November in Prague’s Gott Gallery Restaurant, where it was welcomed by five celebrities - the singer Ilona Csakova, the lead singer of the band Kabat Pepa Vojtek, and the actors Roman Vojtek, Mirek Simunek and Zdenek Podhursky. The book launch event was presented by Eva Horzinkova, a former participant in the Big Brother reality show. Nobody pretended there was no sex in the novel and all guests discussed the potential success of the book.
And The Toy sold beyond all expectations, surprising booksellers and keeping bookstores busy with their orders. The novel twice appeared among the Top 10 best-selling books and it stayed in the Top 20 best-selling books of the most important bookstores for a considerable time. The Palac knih Luxor bookstore in Wencelslas Square in Prague and the Knihy Dobrovsky bookstore in the Vankovka shopping mall in Brno held book signing events only 3 weeks after the novel appeared on the market.
The story is set in a luxurious resort in the Seychelles that is visited by world-famous celebrities who go there to relax away from the camera lenses of the paparazzi. In this place, which ordinary people can only dream of, a young Czech woman working as a therapist falls in love with the man of her dreams. The Toy is defined by physical obsession, a cult of a man’s body, sex and manipulation.
The book (as well as the promotional campaign surrounding it) started a chain of contradictory reactions from the public. The book was labelled “extremely controversial” and some cities even banned it from being advertised on billboards because of the provocative content of the advertisement. The reason - the advertisement showed parts of naked human bodies (not private parts, of course!) and contained the word “sex” three times. It almost resulted in a scandal. An advertising agency representing the city of Brno even made an official statement to the effect that the posting of the advertisement on billboards would discredit the city itself. All this ensured that the book attracted a great deal of attention.
The Toy doesn’t pander to the public taste, it doesn’t ask what is tolerable and appropriate, it doesn’t pretend to be high literature in the manner of Shakespeare and it doesn’t obsequiously play the game in order to meet the requirements of sophisticated readers. The Toy goes its own way; the reactions of the Czech public oscillate between enormous enthusiasm and complete aversion. You may hear comments like “sex bible, exciting, uncompromising, finally a book that has vigour and style, unconventional, fascinating”; some call it “purposely commercial, meretricious”, others “an interesting literary work”. Other opinions claimed that the book was absolutely frigid, silly or boring, or that it was just an absurd would-be book; there were readers who considered it vulgar and unacceptable. Some readers were not too shy to argue for their opinions on the official website of The Toy. Had the novel been “just an ordinary book”, it could have been labelled good or bad without being called dozens of names and having dozens of comparisons drawn with it. There is no doubt that The Toy has met its expectations - it has left nobody cold and uninterested.
The Czech original of the third, revised edition of The Toy is available in all major bookstores in the Czech Republic, including NeoLUXOR, Kanzelsberger and Knihy Dobrovsky, and in all major on-line bookstores, e.g. www.kosmas.cz.
You can also order it on-line on the website of the publisher: www.vanaspen.com