If you are drawn to the rich Czech tradition of legend and fairytale, Marcela Sulak’s new translation of one of the classics of 19th century Czech poetry is a must. Karel Jaromír Erben’s collection of ballads, “A Bouquet” was first published in 1853, and since then has been read by generations of Czech children and parents alike. David Vaughan talks to Marcela Sulak about a translation that brings out the freshness, sensitivity and humanity of Erben’s poetic world of spinning wheels, water-sprites and witches. More
The lower house on Thursday approved in its first reading a government-proposed bill which would introduce a reduced 10 percent VAT rate on books, baby food and medicines as of January 2015. The basic VAT rate of 21 percent and the reduced rate of 15 percent will be maintained. A final vote on the bill in the lower house is expected in September, after which it will still have to win approval in the Senate and be signed into law by the president.
A cut in Value Added Tax to 10 percent for books, baby food, and drugs was approved by the government on Wednesday at its regular weekly meeting. The reduce rate of sales tax should come into force from the start of 2015. Babies’ nappies did not make it into the basket of tax reduced items because of fears that a reduction here would conflict with European rules. The introduction of a reduced rate of tax is one of the government’s flagship measures. The Cabinet also agreed to abolish charges for visits to doctors and hospitals with the exception of use of emergency services.
A vast amount has been written about the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia during the German occupation, but we tend to focus on the more dramatic events – the occupation itself, the assassination of the Nazi ruler Reinhard Heydrich or the destruction of the villages of Lidice and Ležáky. But the American historian, Chad Bryant, has looked at the six years of occupation in an unusually nuanced way. His book Prague in Black looks at the complexities and contradictions of life at different phases of the occupation, as Czechs tried to hold their nation together and the Nazis dreamed of a German Europe. Chad Bryant is David Vaughan’s guest in Czech Books. More
For six years during the Second World War, Prague was the capital of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, established by the Nazis in parts of the former Czechoslovakia. A new book entitled A Guide Through Prague Under the Protectorate now offers a detailed look at the map of the capital during those dark times. If you ever wondered where the paratroopers spent their last night before they assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, where Czech resistance fighters secretly met, or where Nazi top officials lived during the war, the book has all the answers. 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
Current AffairsPages from manuscript of The Trial highlight of concurrent Kafka exhibitions in Prague
Two exhibitions opening in Prague on Friday will turn the spotlight on a writer closely associated with the city, Franz Kafka. One will focus on his classic novel The Trial, giving visitors a rare chance to see pages from the original manuscript, while the other will present Kafka and his work through the eyes of cartoonists. Ian Willoughby reports. More
Two exhibitions at Prague’s Old Town Hall will mark the 90th anniversary of the death of the author Franz Kafka next month and the 100th anniversary of when he began writing his novel The Trial. The centrepiece of an exhibition entitled The Trial will be the original manuscript of one of the greatest works in world literature, while a concurrent exhibition will focus on the portrayal of Kafka and his work in comics by artists such as Robert Crumb and Jaromír 99. Both begin on May 23 and run until June 30. Theatre performances and lectures are also planned in connection with the anniversaries.
Almost 17,900 new book titles were published in the Czech Republic in 2013, an increase of around 600 on the previous year, the Czech News Agency reported on Thursday. The figures coincide with the opening of the Czech Republic’s flagship annual book fair, Book World, in Prague on Thursday. New titles peaked in the Czech Republic in 2011 with almost 19,000 being published. Since then the sector has been hit by the imposition of a higher rate of Value Added Tax rate on books and increased costs. The current centre-left coalition government has promised to put books back into a lower VAT band.
The Czech Interior Ministry has found that the police broke no laws when they raided two Islamic centres in Prague two weeks ago, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said after a meeting the police president. The organized crime unit of the Czech police raided a mosque and an Islamic community centre in the capital, quoting the distribution of a racist book as the reason. The operation came under criticism by Muslim community leaders as well as some foreign diplomats and public figures. On Friday, Minister Chovanec said he had asked police bosses to consider all possible aspects and risks of any such operation in the future.