Josef Straka is an heir to the rich tradition of the poet as a wanderer through the city. In Paris they have the “flâneur”, but in Prague it is the “chodec”, the walker, who captures the poetry of the everyday and the ordinary. Josef’s poetic journeys have taken him far beyond the edges of the city and even this country itself, as we find out in his conversation with David Vaughan for this week’s Czech Books.
When the Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austrian throne in Sarajevo in 1914, he was just short of his twentieth birthday. Under Austrian law, this meant that he was too young to be executed. He was to spend the next four years in the garrison prison in Terezín, north of Prague, and this was where he died just before the end of the war, the result of tuberculosis and mistreatment. The little-known story of his forced stay in what is now the Czech Republic was the inspiration for the latest novel by the British writer, David
A collection of photos of the RAF’s Czechoslovak 312 squadron by the great photographer Ladislav Sitenský has just been published in Prague. The book was meant to come out in 1948 but was pulped, and the new edition has been timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia.
All the characters in Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s great Irish-language comic novel Cré na Cille are dead. The title could be translated as Graveyard Clay and the setting is a graveyard in Connemara. But this is a graveyard where the deceased are more than a little talkative. The book is narrated in many voices, most of them in South Connemara dialect, and has been said to be untranslatable into English, let alone Czech, but now, nearly 70 years after it was first published in Ireland, Cré na Cille has just come out in a vibrant Czech translation. David
Although Czech soldiers are currently serving in foreign missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali and the Sinai Peninsula, their service and daily lives far from home remain veiled in mystery for most Czechs. A book entitled The Other Life, which hit bookshelves late last year, aims to change that and increase the public’s respect for members of the Czech armed forces.
Czech writer Jaroslav Rudiš is set to receive the prestigious German
literary award Preis der Literaturhäuser. The organizers highlighted
Rudiš’s ability to work with different literary genres.
The 45-year old writer, who lives both in the Czech Republic and Germany, will pick up the award, which comes with a cheque for 15,000 euros, in March at the Leipzig Book Fair.
Franz Fühmann (1922-1984) was one of East Germany’s most widely read writers. He is also one of few that have stood the test of time. He grew up in Czechoslovakia in Rokytnice nad Jizerou, a small town in the mountains close to what was then the border between Czechoslovakia and Germany. This provided the setting for several of his stories, drawing from his pre-war memories of the Sudetenland. They form part of his 1962 collection The Jew Car which is now available in English, published by Seagull Books and translated by Isabel Cole. David Vaughan
Where are the most unusual places to have a drink in Prague? What are the city’s five best small breweries? And which five river islands are worth discovering? A new book called ‘500 Hidden Secrets of Prague’ gives answers to all these questions and more and invites both tourists and locals to discover places off the beaten track.
At the end of 2015 the Australian novelist and essayist Liam Pieper was Prague’s first writer-in-residence through the UNESCO City of Literature programme. His two months in Prague bore fruit. Last year Liam’s powerful and disturbing novel, The Toymaker, was published by Penguin Australia to critical acclaim. It has since been translated into several languages, including Czech. Set in Auschwitz, wartime Prague and Krakow, and contemporary Melbourne, The Toymaker grapples with the legacy of the Holocaust and reminds us of the dangers of keeping silent
Demonstrations held in 11 cities over election of Communist MP Ondráček to chairman post
National Museum discovers fake gems in its collection
Czech Republic caught up in plastic waste disposal crisis in Europe
President Zeman’s Chinese advisor arrested
Growing concern over plight of leading Chinese investor in the Czech Republic