Archive: Culture | Literature Literature

A taste of Prague spring for an actor in Egypt’s revolution

28-04-2012 02:01 | David Vaughan

Hamdy el-Gazzar, photo: Standa Soukup It was apt that one of the participants in this year’s Prague Writers’ Festival was the Egyptian novelist Hamdy el-Gazzar, who played an active part in the dramatic events last spring on Cairo’s Tahrir Square. It is no coincidence that the revolutions across North Africa and the Middle East came to be known as the “Arab Spring”, taking their name from events in Czechoslovakia – the Prague Spring – over forty years earlier. You do not have to look far to find parallels between the atmosphere of then and now, and the events of ’68 are also a warning that not every popular uprising ends happily. David Vaughan talks to Hamdy el-Gazzar about his experience as a writer and journalist.  More

Lubomír Dorůžka: Legendary music journalist and translator of Western literature

23-04-2012 14:09 | Ian Willoughby

Lubomír Dorůžka, photo: Tomáš Vodňanský Lubomír Dorůžka first began writing about music seven decades ago when, during WWII, he produced a clandestine magazine on his greatest passion, jazz. The quintessential American art form was frowned upon by the Communists after their 1948 takeover of Czechoslovakia. However, in the relatively liberal 1960s Mr. Dorůžka was able to edit music magazines and play a very active role in international jazz organisations. As well as being a music journalist, he is also a renowned translator of American and British writers – and as a young man did many translations with his lifelong friend, the novelist Josef Škvorecký.  More

Hanif Kureishi – the famous British author on Prague, Islam and multiracial societies in Europe

17-04-2012 15:17 | Sarah Borufka

Hanif Kureishi Undoubtedly the most famous guest at this year’s Prague Writers’ Festival, the British novelist, screenwriter and playwright Hanif Kureishi rose to international fame in 1985, with his screenplay for the film “My Beautiful Laundrette”. Since then, he published the novel “The Buddha of Suburbia” to great acclaim and continues to write extensively, both for the screen and works of fiction. Ahead of his first reading at the festival, I asked him about his work, why he enjoys the short story form and if he had previously visited Prague.  More

Writer and psychologist Gündüz Vassaf on totalitarianism, modern Turkey and the role of Islam in his life

16-04-2012 16:14 | Sarah Borufka

Gündüz Vassaf Amongst intellectuals in Turkey, the psychologist and author Gündüz Vassaf is a bit of a rock-star. He writes a weekly column for the newspaper radical, was a founding member of the Istanbul chapter of Amnesty International and resigned from his post as university professor in protest of the 1980 military coup. Born and educated in America, Vassaf is regarded as one of the most important critical voices in Turkey. Currently, he is in town for the Prague Writers’ Festival, and we spoke to him ahead of the gala opening. The interview opens with the question of whether he is familiar with the city at all.  More

God the linguist teaches us to breathe

14-04-2012 02:01 | David Vaughan

Ivan Blatný “Bixley Remedial School” is one of the most remarkable collections of Czech poetry from the second half of the twentieth century. At the time it was first published in the early 1980s, its author Ivan Blatný was a long-term patient in a psychiatric hospital in England. A new edition of the collection reminds us that Blatný’s poetry is far from being the mere scribbling of a madman. David Vaughan reports.  More

22nd edition of Prague Writers’ Festival brings international literature greats like Hanif Kureishi to Czech capital

12-04-2012 16:17 | Sarah Borufka

Hanif Kureishi On Saturday, the 22nd edition of the prestigious Prague Writers’ Festival kicks off in the Czech capital, under the theme of “Only the future exists”. For five days, visitors will have the opportunity to attend readings, discussion panels and film screenings featuring writers from around the world. As every year, the festival brings writers of international caliber to the city, with the British novelist and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi probably the most famous guest this year. Sarah Borufka spoke to the festival’s president, Michael March, about the guests, the mission and the theme of the festival.  More

Petr Váša – avant-garde rocker turned ‘physical poet”

25-03-2012 03:01 | Jan Richter

Petr Váša In Sunday Music Show, you have a chance to follow the career of Petr Váša, one of the most original figures of the Czech musical scene. From his early days of avant-garde rock to his ‘physical poetry’, Petr Váša has explored some of the lesser known corners of popular music with his energetic, disquieting and sometimes rather eccentric creations.  More

“Sala’s Gift”: a whole war in a tin box

17-03-2012 02:01 | David Vaughan

You will probably not have heard of Gross Sarne, Brande, Blechhammer or Schatzlar, but these are places that should be remembered. They were all Nazi slave labour camps in World War Two. The last on that list, Schatzlar, or Žacléř as it is known in Czech, was in what is now the Czech Republic, in the part of north-eastern Bohemia annexed by the German Reich in 1938. Few people in this country, even among the inhabitants of Žacléř itself, know that the camp even existed, but a new book should help to put that right. The daughter of one of the survivors has just been in the Czech Republic, to launch the Czech edition of her book “Sala’s Gift”. The book tells her mother’s story, drawing richly from Sala’s own memories and from several hundred letters that, against all odds, survived the war. David Vaughan tells the story.  More

A new “Czech Literature Guide” gives useful insights into the world of Czech books

10-03-2012 02:01 | David Vaughan

If you’re looking for an overview of the current Czech literary scene in English – everything from surrealist poets to second-hand bookshops – the new “Czech Literature Guide” should be just the book for you. As it states in its introduction, the book’s aim is to present a “panorama of the contemporary life of Czech literature”. David Vaughan reports.  More

“Heaven, distance, light and dazzling brightness”: Czech literary links with Scandinavia

03-03-2012 02:01 | David Vaughan

Norway, photo: Schlaubi, CC 3.0 license Did you know that one of Norway’s popular writers is actually Czech, or that in the mid 1930s Karel Čapek fell in love with the forests and skies of Scandinavia? And do Czechs and Danes have more in common than just beer? David Vaughan looks at Czech-Scandinavian literary links.  More

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