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.
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.
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