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.
The young Prague-born writer Jaroslav Kalfař has received a great deal of attention in the international media for his debut novel Spaceman of Bohemia, which combines elements of science fiction with references to Czech history and mixes absurd humour and moral questions. Kalfař lives in New York and wrote the book in English. When we spoke recently, the author – who has drawn comparisons with several of the greatest modern Czech novelists – was on one of his first visits back to his native city since moving to the US.
If you enjoy poetry and will be in Prague on June 25, the (A)VOID Floating Gallery on the embankment at Náplavka will be hosting an event that you shouldn’t miss. 7 p.m. sees the launch of a fascinating anthology of poems inspired by the River Vltava. The anthology is fully bilingual in Czech and English, and it gives us a flavour of the Vltava that is refreshingly different from the river of the tourist brochures. The event will also be an opportunity to meet some of this country’s best poets and translators. David Vaughan went on board to meet
For over thirty years, the US and UK based publishing house Readers International has been helping to draw attention to the work of writers from countries where they face political pressures, censorship and exile. Over the decades, it has published writing from across the world. One of its founders was Dorothy Connell, who was in Prague recently for the Bookworld book fair. The days of the Cold War, when writers in this part of the world were having to smuggle manuscripts abroad to have any chance of being published, may be long past, but as Dorothy
One of the greatest British novelists of the 20th century, Graham Greene, is the subject of a new comic book by a French scenarist and a US artist. Translated from the French, the title of the just published book is Prague Coup with some of the key episodes focused on Greene’s short visit to Prague in February 1948 when the communist overthrow of the fragile post war government was underway.
Canadian novelist, poetry writer and essayist, Margaret Atwood, has been chosen as this year’s winner of the Franz Kafka prize. She should be officially presented with the award at a ceremony in Prague in October. The prize to mark the life and works of Kafka has been awarded since 2001. Previous winners include Ivan Klima, Haruki Marukami, and Philip Roth. One of the criteria for the award is the work’s humanistic character.
Author James Stafford is a big fan of Czech culture and history and recently settled in the Czech Republic with his family. For the past seven years or so, James worked on ‘The Sorrowful Putto of Prague’ an online comic about a somewhat cynical 400-year-old putto who has seen it all in the Czech capital. The graphic novel now been published in Czech by Argo Publishers – a beautiful edition which Czech readers can look forward to snapping up. A treat, is how it was described by Samuel L. Jackson.
The Czech illustrator Miroslav Šašek produced delightful and evocative books that introduced generations of children to some of the world’s great cities and countries. The fact he spent most of his life in exile has meant that his renown is perhaps greater internationally than in his native country. But in recent years that has finally been changing.
This year’s Book World Prague has just got underway at the city’s Výstaviště. However, the 23rd edition of the trade fair and literary festival will also see it go outside the industrial palace to novel venues, while it will also have a major international aspect. I discussed Book World Prague 2017 with the event’s recently appointed new director, Radovan Auer.
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