In Czech Books this week, we look at award-winnning Irish writer John Banville's relationship with Prague, a city which features in a number of his books, including his personal travelogue Prague Pictures and the historical novel Kepler, which is set in Prague during the reign of Emperor Rudolph II.
This Saturday, July 29, is the 150th anniversary of the death of Karel Havlicek Borovksy, regarded by many as the first Czech journalist. Born in the Moravian village of Borov in 1821, Havlicek Borovsky achieved a lot in his short life; he was also a newspaper editor and a very important figure in the Czech National Revival. Ahead of this weekend's anniversary, the Karel Havlicek Borovsky Institute held a ceremony at his grave in Prague on Tuesday. I spoke to the Institute's Vilem Tanzer about its aims, and the legacy of this legendary Czech
Ludvik Vaculik, one of the Czech Republic's greatest living writers turned 80 on July 23. Born in Brumov, a small corner of southeast Moravia, in 1926, Ludvik Vaculik became an acclaimed writer—important enough for the communists to ban after 1968—and his credentials have also included editor of both Literarni Noviny and Rude Pravo, radio journalist, publisher of the samizdat series Edice Petlice, essayist, and always an engaged citizen.
This past Sunday, Ludvik Vaculik celebrated his 80th birthday. One of the Czech Republic's most well-known and respected writers, Ludvik Vaculik has been part of the Czech literary scene since the 1950s. He has written several novels, literally hundreds of essays, not to mention some of the most important political texts of twentieth century Czechoslovak history.
The photographer Miroslav Tichy became known in the Czech Republic only recently, after he achieved major success abroad. His unusual photographs have been exhibited in galleries in London, New York, Zurich and although they are of very poor technical quality visitors and critics are impressed. The photographs are now sold for up to ten thousand euros.
The Colours of Ostrava, which gets underway on Thursday and reaches a climax on Sunday evening, is perhaps the biggest music festival in Moravia. Among the biggest stars this year are ex-Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and Salif Keita from Mali. As organiser Zlata Holusova explains, this year's festival has a distinct international feel.
A very popular exhibit of Prague Castle's seating furniture has received two pieces of good news: high demand has extended the exhibit until the end of October, and visitors can now admire a new acquisition—or rather one that has returned home after 27 years away. An armchair designed in the early 1920s by Josip Plecnik for president Tomas Masaryk has been recovered at an auction, bought by Prague Castle, and added to the rare collection of pieces on display at Prague's Royal Summer Palace.
In this week's Arts, a look at the music of the Altai Republic in Siberia and attempts by one man to bring it here to the Czech Republic. He is Prague-born Ludek Broz, who's currently doing a PhD in social anthropology at Cambridge University and who also runs a company which encourages tourism and business opportunities in the Altai region.