‘The Fire Next Time’ is the main theme of this years’ annual Prague Writers’ Festival, which gets underway in the Czech capital on Friday. The event, which is being held for the 27th time, brings together prominent writers and thinkers from around the world. One of the biggest guests this year is the Syrian poet Adonis, a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The velocity of alternate facts, the collapse of political parties or the division of present democracies into zones of comfort and fear - these are just some of the subjects that will be explored by the visiting writers and thinkers at this year’s edition of the Prague Writers’ Festival.
The festival’s PR manager Vojtěch Landa explains the choice of the main theme, The Fire Next Time, which refers to a book by the famous US author James Baldwin.
“It might sound a bit threatening, but we are trying to reflect the current situation both in Europe and in the world. There have recently been many racial and civil riots both in the US and in Europe, for instance in Catalonia. So the topic - revolutionary storms around the world - is very topical today.”
Among the biggest guests this year is the young Russian poet, musician and left-wing activist Kirril Medvedev and the Austrian writer Robert Menasse, who won the prestigious German Book Prize for his novel The Capital, a satirical look at the European Union and its bureaucracy.
The poet, who has always sought to secularize the Arab world, will engage in one of the public conversations called The Question of Islam.
Apart from discussion panels and literary readings, the programme also includes two film screenings. Vojtěch Landa again:
“The first film, The Good German, is a Hollywood adaptation of a novel by Joseph Kanon, one of our guests, who has produced a number of thrillers about the Cold War.
“The other film is related to our guest a young US journalist and writer Wesley Lowery, who focuses on racial issues in the United States. He won a Pulitzer Prize for creating a database of Afro-Americans killed by police.
The Prague Writers Festival, which runs until November 15, takes places at various venues across the city, including the Wallenstein Palace in Malá Strana or the Saint Agnes Convent.
“The other film, I Am Not Your Negro, is based on a book by the famous US author James Baldwin. It explores Baldwin’s work and the history of the Afro-American movement for civil rights.”
Among other English-speaking guests will be the young US writer Affinity Konar, who will be discussing her debut novel Mischling, about twin sisters fighting to survive the Holocaust.