The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs is located in the majestic Baroque Černín Palace just above Prague Castle. The majestic building, as well as the nearby Loreta Church, plays a major part in a recently published novel titled “Chvála oportunismu” or “In praise of opportunism”. Its author, Czech diplomat Marek Toman, a guest in Radio Prague’s Czech Books programme earlier this year, works at the ministry and knows the building inside out. I began by asking him how he came up with the idea to make the actual palace the narrator of his latest
A Polish dissident who for many years smuggled correspondence and samizdat literature to Charter 77 in communist Czechoslovakia has received a high military distinction from the Czech Defense Ministry. Jan Mroczkowski, 73, a legend among dissident couriers, made dozens of crossings across the Czech-Polish border with a backpack stuffed with dissident correspondence in the 1980s.He made a significant contribution to maintaining contacts between the Czechoslovak and Polish dissent. Mroczkowski is the first Polish national to receive the Zlatá lípa award for an outstanding contribution to the country’s security and defense.
New data released by the Czech Association of Booksellers and Publishers has confirmed that Czechs belong among Europe’s biggest bookworms. According to the survey, released this week, Czechs spent around 7.5 billion crowns on books in 2015, which is about five percent more than in the previous year.
Czechs last year spent roughly 7.5 billion crowns (the equivalent of around 31.4 million euros) on books, a rise of around five percent year-on-year, according to the Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers. The rise amounts to an increase of between 300 and 400 million crowns. The increase marks a turnaround after several years’ stagnation; according to the association, spending on books increased due to a lowering of the VAT rate on books as well as the improving economy.
Back in September we broadcast an interview with the award-winning blogger Do Thu Trang. She offers a witty and original take on many aspects of relations between Czechs and the country’s Vietnamese community, seen from the point of view of a second generation Vietnamese Czech. In the week’s Czech Books, we meet Trang again and take a closer look at her writing with David Vaughan.
In the world of advanced information technology there are still remnants of an era when all human knowledge was painstakingly collected in libraries that reflected the social status of their owners. Deep in the bowels of Kinski Palace, on Prague’s Old Town Square, the Kinski family library is preserved as it served the family for generations. Its administrator for the National Museum Richard Sipek took me around one of the two remaining palace libraries in the city.
In recent years the annual Prague Writers’ Festival has done much to promote writing from North Africa and the Middle East in the Czech Republic. This year was no exception, with the award-winning Algerian novelist Kamel Daoud and the Egyptian poet Mohamed Metwalli prominent among the writers taking part. David Vaughan caught up with Mohamed Metwalli to talk about his poetry, the complexities of writing in Egypt today and the pleasures of Prague beer.
A book written in Terezín concentration camp by Otto Weiss, who later died at Auschwitz, is being presented at Prague’s Maisel Synagogue on Tuesday evening. Copies of the book entitled I viděl Bůh, že je to špatné (Even God saw it was bad) will be signed by the author’s painter daughter Helga Hošková-Weissová, who illustrated it in Terezín at the age of 13. Mrs. Hošková-Weissová, now aged 86, is herself the author of Helga's Diary: A Young Girl's Account of Life in a Concentration Camp.
The Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia has had its fair number of top spies before the Second World War, during the conflict as well as in the post war and Cold War era. There is František Moravec, who created one of the most successful espionage networks for Czechoslovakia during the inter-war years and later took his skills into exile in Britain.
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Czechia now ahead of Spain in GDP per capita, but still below EU average
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott
In memoriam: Karel Gott, the ‘Bohemian nightingale’