Last week the best-known living Czech author, Milan Kundera, was awarded the State Prize for Literature. The award sparked plenty of debate about the 78-year-old writer, who's lived in France since the 1970s and rarely returns to his homeland; he was not present to collect the award, citing ill health. It was given for the Czech edition of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which was published in French in 1984 but not published in Czech - officially - until last year. Kundera's three most recent novels - published in French and translated into
In this edition of Czech Books we introduce a completely new piece of Czech writing. A couple of years ago in this programme we featured the Romany writer Ilona Ferkova, one of a handful of authors in this country writing in the Romani language, traditionally spoken by Roma across Europe. When I first met Ilona and her family at their home in the West Bohemian town of Rokycany, they had recently returned from Britain. At the end of the 1990s they had been among the many Czech Romany families, who had gone there to seek asylum. They spent four years
Since the 1990s a number of imported holidays - like St Valentine's or St Patrick's - have made something of an inroad in Prague and perhaps other Czech cities, not least because they make fairly decent commercial sense: Valentine's actually a good deal of customers to the florists every February 14th, while St Paddy's helps fill up the city's already heavily visited Irish pubs. But one "holiday" which has made less of an impact, perhaps surprisingly, is Halloween. After many years in the Czech Republic, I must admit that I feel a tinge, just a
David Zabransky caused a stir with the release of his first novel 'Slabost pro kazdou jinou plaz' (or 'Any Beach But This' as it will be titled when it comes out in English). In March, he was named 'discovery of the year' at the prestigious Magnesia Litera awards. Perhaps appropriately for such a fan of dichotomies, readers seem to either love Mr. Zabransky's book, or hate it. His style has been likened to that of Milan Kundera - which is not something he is overly thrilled about:
Possibly the best-known living Czech writer, Milan Kundera, will receive the State Prize for Literature on Thursday for his famous work "The Unbearable Lightness of Being". The novel was first published in French in 1984, but the official Czech edition didn't appear in this country until last year, to great acclaim. However the 78-year-old writer, who emigrated to France in the 1970s, has what can best be described as a difficult relationship with his homeland, and will not attend Thursday's prize-giving ceremony. Rob Cameron spoke to literary
In 2006, photographer Jan Reich's publication Bohemia - an extensive series of artistic landscapes throughout the Czech Republic - won the main prize in the country's prestigious literature competition Magnesia Litera. But some critics still consider his best series to be "Disappearing Prague" - a project the photographer began in the 1970s capturing the genius loci of some of Prague's oldest and most run-down districts. Scenes from the periphery in the years following the Soviet-led invasion in 1968: the docks of old Holesovice, ruined facades
The Orloj, or Astronomical clock, on the Old Town Square is one of Prague's major tourist attractions. Every hour, the square fills with tourists who watch two small windows on the clock tower, waiting for the regular procession of apostles. Recently, however, the walls of the clock tower have grown increasingly damp and conservationists fear that dust from the moist plaster might cause mechanical problems for the ancient clockwork.
Karel Kryl, singer, songwriter and poet, was the most prominent Czech folk musician of the last fifty years. His well-known songs are to this day sung in pubs and around campfires, even by those of the younger generation of Czechs who grew up after his death. Born in Kromeriz in 1944, he began writing and performing after graduating from secondary school, and was later expelled from army service for performing songs deemed to be anti-socialist. He was exiled from Czechoslovakia in 1970, but continued to write, produce and perform until his return
This Tuesday sees the opening of the 11th Jihlava film festival. The festival in the small town where Bohemia meets Moravia is one of the biggest of its kind in central and eastern Europe. Dedicated to screening fresh new documentary films, it aims to provide an alternative outlet to more popular cinemas and to Czech television, where such films are rarely shown.
One of the highlights of Prague's cultural calendar in recent years has been the Music on Film Film on Music (MOFFOM) festival. It brings together often hard to find music documentaries, and also features live concerts and other events. The 2007 MOFFOM has just got underway, and continues until Sunday. On the eve of the festival, programme director Keith Jones explained how it had changed since its inception in 2004: