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
The Indian journalist Inderjit Badhwar has a reputation for pursuing stories with courage and determination. His investigative writing during the more than two decades he spent in the US earned him a Pulitzer nomination. But it wasn’t his work as a journalist that brought Badhwar to Prague last month. He is also an acclaimed and award-winning novelist, writing from a perspective that crosses continents and reflects his own international life story. He was here for the Prague Writers’ Festival, during which he spoke to David Vaughan about his writing
Police have retrieved a valuable 16th century herbarium that disappeared
from the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.
The book was confiscated during a raid in the home of a Ukranian national who is suspected of illegal drugs production and bribery.
The herbarium had been missing for 26 years. The Ukrainian claimed to have bought it on the black market. Its value is estimated at 150,000 crowns.
Ever since her award-winning debut novel All This Belongs to Me came out in 2002, Petra Hůlová has been a major voice in Czech fiction. The book went on to be translated into many languages, including English, and became a huge success for the then twenty-three-year-old writer. Now, thanks to translator Alex Zucker and Jantar Publishing, English readers can enjoy another of Petra’s novels. Three Plastic Rooms is written as the monologue of a prostitute as she approaches middle age. It is totally absorbing – acrobatic in its language and humorous
Dlouhá cesta or Long Journey is the title of a new book by the Czech UK-based author Petr Horáček. The talented illustrator has published dozens of children’s books in Britain, wining a number of awards around the world, but Dlouhá cesta is his first title written in Czech for Czech children. Radio Prague went to the book launch.
In his twenty years as editor-in-chief of the publishers Faber and Faber, Robert McCrum introduced some of the best Czech writers, including Václav Havel, Milan Kundera and Josef Škvorecký, to English speaking readers. This was in the days before the fall of communism and his visits to Czechoslovakia involved a cat-and-mouse game with the authorities. A few days ago Robert McCrum returned to the Czech Republic, to see how the country is faring on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion. He spoke to David Vaughan.
Heda Margolius Kovály was a well-known writer and translator who survived the Auschwitz extermination camp and whose first husband, Rudolf Margolius, a deputy minister of foreign trade, was found guilty in the notorious Slánský show trials in what is one of the darkest chapters of in modern Czechoslovak history. In the 1970s, Heda published a memoir which has been in print ever since, but now, a new publication called “Hitler, Stalin and I”, based on four days of interviews with documentary filmmaker Helena Treštíková in 2000 and made into a film