By far the country’s swankiest annual literary event, the Magnesia Litera awards, covering nine categories, including prose, poetry, blogs and translations, were broadcast live on Czech TV on Sunday evening. Book of the Year award went to veteran author Radka Denemarková for her novel ‘Hours of Lead’ while the award for best work of prose went to rising literary star Pavla Horáková – a former colleague of ours at Radio Prague – for her novel ‘A Theory of Strangeness’.
The Czech Republic has officially launched its programme at the Leipzig
Book Fair, one of the most important literary events in the world, which
got underway on Thursday. The Czech stands have already attracted several
thousand visitors, the Czech News Agency reported.
The Czech Republic is the festival’s main guest of honour this year, with some 130 events featuring 60 Czech authors. Around 70 books, translated into German for this occasion, will be presented at the festival over the course of the next four days.
New York-based Alex Zucker is one of the most highly-regarded translators of Czech literature into English and works regularly with leading writers such as Jáchym Topol and Petra Hůlová. When we spoke on a park bench in Manhattan in late September, the conversation took in Zucker’s time in Prague in the early 1990s, his long relationships with authors and his criteria for choosing projects. But first he told me how he had started translating Czech literature – via an interest in human rights.
Czechs are marking twenty years since the death of Jaroslav Foglar, youth movement activist and author of the legendary comics Rapid Arrows. Among the events remembering the famous writer is a performance of his novel Mystery of the Puzzle Box at Prague’s Minor theatre, which has been sold out for weeks. Meanwhile, the Scout Foundation of Jaroslav Foglar, which is in charge of his heritage, is releasing a special, limited edition of his autobiography.
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
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
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 Magnesia Litera award for Czech book of the year has gone to Jezero (The Lake) by Bianca Bellová. The post-apocalyptic novel alludes to the collapse of the Soviet empire as well as pointing to today’s geopolitical situation. The prestigious Magnesia Litera for best work of prose went to Marek Šindelka’s Únava materialu (Material Fatigue), which was inspired by the recent migrant crisis. Prizes in six other categories were also handed out at Tuesday’s awards ceremony in Prague.