Specialists have been conducting an extensive inventory of items at a villa in Prague 10 which was once owned by writer Karel Čapek and his brother Josef. Included on the list, is a trove of original sketches, drawings and handwritten letters found in a secret safe, reported just this week. More
Rachael Weiss is an Australian author with Czech roots, who has just published her second book about Prague, based on her own experience of living in the Czech capital. The memoir, called The Thing about Prague, is chock-full of entertaining stories about how she went about looking for a job, finding an apartment and trying to blend in with Czechs. On the occasion of the book launch, I asked Rachael Weiss what made her write yet another book dedicated to Prague: More
Even if you have never read anything by the great German novelist Thomas Mann, you will almost certainly have come across Visconti’s film of his most famous novella, “Death in Venice”. Thomas Mann is the best known member of one of Germany’s most celebrated literary families. Several of his children also had literary careers, but it is Thomas Mann’s elder brother Heinrich, born in 1871, who is the focus of this week’s Czech Books. Also a novelist, he had close associations with Czechoslovakia. David Vaughan explores the Czech branch of the Mann family. More
A former close associate of President Miloš Zeman has launched an attack on the head of state in a new book. Miroslav Šlouf worked with Mr. Zeman while he was leader of the Social Democrats and is regarded as having masterminded his presidential campaign. In Jak se dobývá Hrad (How to Conquer the Castle), he says that Mr. Zeman’s behaviour is increasingly determined by three negative traits: unpredictable mood swings, dogged obstinacy and practically non-existent social intelligence. The president broke off contact with Mr. Šlouf after his election in January least year.
The poet, playwright and novelist Irena Eliášová spent her early childhood in a Romany village in south-western Slovakia. The memory of this time has become the defining experience in her writing. But Irena does not write just about the lost world of her childhood in the 1950s and 60s. She has also written powerfully and poignantly about the life of Roma in the Czech Republic today. Yet even when she writes about the present, her work is permeated with a sense of family and community that also draws us back to an older world of Roma tradition. David Vaughan meets one of the Czech Republic’s foremost Romany writers. More
Czech writer Jan Němec was given the EU Prize for Literature for 2014 at a ceremony in Brussels on Tuesday night. The 33-year-old Němec was awarded for his novel Historie světla or A History of Light, based on the life of the famous Czech photographer František Drtikol. The prize, accompanied by 5,000 Euros, is dedicated to new and emerging European authors. Jan Němec is the second Czech writer to receive the prize after Tomáš Zmeškal, who was awarded the EU Prize for Literature in 2011.
Michael Žantovský is the author of a newly published book on the former Czech president simply entitled [:i:]Havel[:/i:] available in both Czech and English. He is one of a few members of the former Civic Forum movement still active in public life, currently serving as the Czech Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Back in 1990, he became a press spokesperson for the new president Václav Havel. From 1992-97, he served as ambassador to the United States. He has also served as Czech Ambassador to Israel, been elected to the Czech Senate, and worked as a translator of both fiction and non-fiction English works. I began by asking Žantovský whether in writing Havel, he had aimed to create a subjective memoir or a more objective examination of the life of the former president. More
E-books have been slow to take off in the Czech Republic with taxes, a local penchant for piracy, and caution from some of the traditional print publishers some of the factors in its slow roll-out. But the optimists are still sticking to the script that e-books can elbow themselves a much greater share of the market. More
Fans of urban fantasy may be interested to learn more about “Come Hell or High Water” a trilogy written by New York-based author Stephen Morris – a former Eastern Orthodox chaplain at Columbia University. His series, set in Prague, not only blends past legend with the present, but meticulously works with occult European magical practices and beliefs. More
In this week's Panorama, I am joined by Vilém Prečan, the chairman and founder of the Czechoslovak Documentation Centre. Along with photographer Karel Cudlín, he is the co-author of a new Czech-German book called Německý podzim v Praze 1989, or The German Autumn in Prague, 1989. This book chronicles a very particular set of events, namely the 1989 exodus of East Germans via the West German embassy in Prague, which ultimately led to the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Berlin Wall. More