The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by the Czech-born writer Milan Kundera has been published for the first time in the Czech Republic. It was the author’s last novel written in Czech that had not been available in his homeland before now. The only edition ever released in Czech previously was in 1981 by the exile publishing house Sixty-Eight Publishers.
Martina Formanová, the wife of the famous Czech director Miloš Forman, was recently in Prague to launch an audio version of her novel, called Případ Pavlína, or Case Pavlína. The book, which was released a few years ago, tells the story of the Czech-born 1980’s super model Pavlína Pořízková and her family’s dramatic escape from Communist Czechoslovakia.
For the Irish poet Michael O’Loughlin, Europe is not just a place on the map. The Europe of his poetry is a labyrinth of ideas, memories and languages. Its borders are permeable and shifting. We sense it is there, yet it remains stubbornly elusive. Michael is in Prague as part of the UNESCO City of Literature programme, and has been reflecting on the city’s place in Europe, as well as his own European identity. He spoke with David Vaughan.
As part of its Modern Czech Classics series, the Karolinum Press has just published a collection of poems by Bohuslav Reynek in English translation. The poet died in 1971 at the age of 79, having spent nearly all his life in the depths of the Czech countryside, but it is only in recent years that he has been rediscovered by a wider readership. For decades, he was derided or at best ignored by the communist regime, not least because of the deeply spiritual quality of his work. Today Reynek is acclaimed not just for his poetry, but also as a visual
The Czech writer Petr Šabach died on Saturday at the age of 66, a
representative of his publishers said on Sunday. The Prague-born author’s
short stories became the basis for the hugely popular movies Cosy Dens
(Pelíšky) and Big Beat (Šakalí léta), as well as other films by
director Jan Hřebejk and screenwriter Petr Jarchovský.
Šabach’s son said that the writer had died at home according to his wishes and that there would not be a public funeral.
Czech painter and illustrator Karel Franta has died in Prague at the age of 89. Franta was known mainly for his illustrations of children’s books. He won many prizes for them, including the Grand Prix of UNICEF in Frankfurt am Main for the best illustration of 1986. In 1994, he was recognised internationally by being listed on the International Board of Books for Young People. An exhibition of paintings and drawings by Karel Franta is opening this weekend in the north Bohemian town of Lomnice nad Popelkou.
One of the most popular Czech writers of the last two decades has been Irena Dousková. Her short novel Hrdý Budžes has become a classic, with its touching and humorous portrayal of childhood in 1970s communist Czechoslovakia. Now the book is available in English translation, thanks to Melvyn Clarke, who talks to David Vaughan about the book and his work translating and promoting Czech writing today.