The annual Prague Writers’ Festival, which brings together prominent writers and thinkers from around the world, gets underway in Prague on Friday. The 26th edition of the festival focuses on the theme of Crime and Punishment in a world where the destruction of universal human values often leads to extreme individualism. As always, the festival brings a number of guests, including US writer Chuck Palahniuk.
Who is truly responsible for war crimes? Is there any justice? And to what extent does the media coverage of war reality deprive the reality of its impact? These are some of the questions that will be addressed by this year’s Prague Festival of Writers. Most of the discussions and readings will take place at the Wallenstein Palace in Malá Strana.
One of the biggest guests this year will be the US writer Chuck Palahniuk, best known for his novel Fight Club. Mr Palahniuk will attend the opening panel debate and have an author’s reading, but he will also be present at the launch of the Fight Club 2 Comic Book and attend a theatrical performance of Fight Club at Celetná Theatre.
Michael March is the founder and president of Prague Writers’ festival:
“Chuck is being presented in many forms at the festival. He is of course a very popular writer, because he exposed the wound of American civilisation to a younger generation, when he published Fight Club in 1996. I wouldn’t say he is a depressing writer, I would say he is a realist.
“He is looking at part of the society which is very violent, schizophrenic, unpredictable and also created as a product of the American civilisation, such as Donald Trump. It is very important to see that because if you can see it, then perhaps you can analyse it and in a sense overcome it within yourselves.”
Among other distinguished guests coming to Prague Writers’ Festival this year is the Chinese author Yan Lianke, whose novels and shorts stories, mostly based on modern Chinese history, have been translated and won awards abroad.
Another world-renowned guest will be a South African-born novelist and translator John Maxwell Coetzee, recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. But Michael March highlights the presence of several writers from Egypt and Algeria, who bring a fresh point of view on the Arab world:
“We are bringing a very gifted poet from Cairo, Mohamed Metwalli, a fabulous translator, who lived in America as a poet in residence at the University of Chicago. He is bringing poetry from the Arab world seen in a very modern sense.
“The moderator will be Mohamed El-Baaly, who is a publisher and director of the Cairo Literature Festival, so in a sense we are going to have a very direct introduction to Egypt today.”
All discussions and readings from Prague Writer’s Festival will also be available online at the website of the Czech Television.