Part of a 100-page personal report on the Charter 77 period written by Václav Havel is set for publication on Friday as part of events marking the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Charter 77 protest document. After being lost for many decades, the valuable text was recently discovered in the papers of another leading Chartist and friend of Havel’s, the late Zdeněk Urbánek. Michael Žantovský is the director of the Václav Havel Library, which is issuing the facsimile of the major find. He told me more about it.
Pioneers and Robots is the title of a new book focusing on the golden era of Czechoslovak illustration, which was recently released by the Paseka publishing house. Written by two graphic artists, the book offers an in-depth account of the development of visual arts in Czechoslovakia after the Communist takeover in 1948.
A text written by Václav Havel on the first days of Charter 77 that he himself believed lost is to be published in connection with Friday’s 40th anniversary of the launch of the protest document. The 100-page text was found recently in the papers of Zdeněk Urbánek, a friend who like Mr. Havel was a leading dissident in communist Czechoslovakia. The first chapter is being published by the Václav Havel Library in a run of 500 numbered copies. The publication will be launched at a gathering on Friday outside Mr. Urbánek’s former home in Prague 6, where much of Charter 77 was written. A conference and other events are also taking place in connection with the anniversary.
The Soviet-born, UK-raised analyst and writer Peter Pomerantsev spent most of the 2000s living in Moscow, later recalling those wild years in the hit memoir Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia. We met when Pomerantsev was on a recent visit to Prague, with the conversation taking in Vladimir Putin’s ultimate aims and, in effect, nothing less than the future of the world as we have known it. But I began by asking him how soon after arriving in Moscow as a young TV producer did he start to feel uncomfortable
The legendary Fišer bookstore in Kaprova Street near the Old Town Square, which has been selling books since the 1930s, is closing down. Despite a petition with over 3,500 signatures against its closure, the owner of the space refused to extend its lease. Dozens of fans and faithful customers gathered in the bookstore on Wednesday night to say their last goodbye.
Sunday was the fifth anniversary of the death of Václav Havel, the Czech dissident who led the Velvet Revolution and went on to spend nearly 13 years as president. But before he became a politician, Havel was, of course, a playwright, and it is just his literary work that is the focus of the book Reading Václav Havel by David S. Danaher, a Slavic Studies expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When he visited our studios recently, we discussed, among other things, Havel’s legacy and relevance today. But I first asked Danaher what had led
This week would have been the 90th birthday of Arnošt Lustig, one of the great voices of contemporary Czech fiction, who died in 2011. As a child he survived Auschwitz and the experience was to define his career as a writer. For all the horrors they describe, Lustig’s books are characterized by an overriding humanity, as humour, passion and compassion endure in the most brutalizing of circumstances. Several of his novels, including Night and Hope and A Prayer for Kateřina Horovitzová, have become international bestsellers, and Lustig continued to
In the first half of the 20th century Czechoslovakia was at the forefront of design, from architecture to furniture production. But a new publication by Prague’s Museum of Decorative Arts (UPM) together with Academia, makes the case that good design survived in pockets even under socialism. The book, entitled Design in the Czech Lands 1900 – 2000, featuring hundreds of reproductions was co-edited by UPM’s Iva Knoblochová. She told me how plans for the ambitious book came together.
The Czech book market is growing, according to a new report from the Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers cited by the news site iDnes.cz. The industry had a turnover of CZK 7.5 billion in 2015, a 5 percent increase on the previous year that was driven in large part by the Ministry of Education directing schools to buy books for their libraries directly from bookshops. Over 16,500 titles were published on the local market. The report says that the number of independent bookshops has continued to decline and may fall further due to the government’s new electronic cash registers scheme.
Publishers that focus on contemporary writing from Central Europe are few and far between, but they play an important role in bringing Czech poetry and prose to an international audience. One of the newest players is Jantar Publishing, based in London. In just a few years it has established a strong reputation with its beautifully produced translations, several of which we have already talked about here on Radio Prague. As David Vaughan finds out in this week’s Czech Books, Jantar is going from strength to strength with ambitious plans for the
New flats in Prague increasingly out of reach
Lidice – the tragic fate of a village that became a powerful symbol
Largest protest since 1989 on Prague’s Wenceslas square as battle rages on for the PM’s political future
Czech politicians condemn draft Russian bill as attempt to rewrite history
Embattled Czech PM launches counter-offensive to win over public in Agrofert dispute