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
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.
Czechs and Germans in 1930s Czechoslovakia: a complex picture
Wide range of events in store for Czechs this weekend as 30-year anniversary of Velvet Revolution reaches climax
Hundreds of thousands again gather in Prague to voice their opposition to prime minister
Škoda unveils 4th-generation Octavia ahead of model’s 60th anniversary
Shabby pub profits from nostalgia