Scottish writer Iain Banks is a prolific novelist of conventional novels and science fiction. Since his first novel, “The Wasp Factory” was published in 1984, he has penned around a dozen conventional novels. Under the pen name Iain M Banks he has published around half that number of science fiction books. Many of these feature a utopian civilization of the future called “The Culture.” Away from the writing, Mr. Banks takes a public political stand on many issues, for example he tore up his passport and mailed it to the prime minister in protest
One of the greats of Czech film and theatre, Ladislav Smoljak, died at the age of 78 at the weekend. As a director, screenwriter and actor, Smoljak, brought his special humour to the stage and screen over more than four decades. He will perhaps be best remembered as one of the creators of the fictional Czech character Jára Cimrman.
The legend among Czech rock musicians, singer and songwriter Vladimír Mišík, is back. After a six year break, he and his band, Etc, recently released a new album “Ztracený podzim”, or Lost Autumn. Although the name and the album’s cover might suggest Vladimír Mišík has turned into a melancholic, he in fact back with a vengeance – the album is bursting with full, natural sound and raw energy.
Good news for Beatles fans – a new exhibition at the Czech Museum of Music opens on Thursday evening featuring the music and the men – the museum’s even borrowed George Harrison’s banjo, one of John Lennon’s shoes, and lots more Beatles memorabilia. The exhibition’s highly interactive however - there’s even a little recording studio where you can try belting out Beatles songs. Earlier we spoke to the exhibition’s curator, Dagmar Fialová.
The hedonism of today’s wealthy young Russians is the focus of an exhibition of photographs by Antonín Kratochvíl which has just opened at Prague’s Mánes gallery. In Moscow Nights, he captures scenes of decadence as the city’s “golden youth” cavort in night clubs and even on Stalin’s old yacht. Just ahead of the show’s opening, I asked the great Czech photographer what had drawn him to that subject.
Prague’s Divadlo na Zábradlí is known mainly for staging former President Havel’s plays but in the last couple of years, it has also focused on producing English-language plays. Thursday will see the premiere of a play acted in English with Czech subtitles on the theatre’s main stage. The play, written by a young Polish author Dorota Maslowska, has a rather complicated title: A Couple of Poor Polish-Speaking Romanians in English with Czech Subtitles.
Not many people have their first book published when they are over 80, but Jaroslava Skleničková is a remarkable exception. Her home village is Lidice, a few miles to the west of Prague, where she and her husband Čestmír, will be celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary next year. But the fact that Jaroslava is alive at all is nothing short of a miracle. Her book, which has just been published in English, tells the moving story of her life, as David Vaughan reports in this week’s Czech Books.
A flower market on a giant paddle boat, a floating cycling path along the Vltava River or a special high-heels lane running across the cobbled centre of Prague – these are just a few projects created within the Urban Interventions initiative, which is currently on display in Prague’s Dox gallery. The organizers have asked architects to find ways of livening up what they see as problematic public spaces in the capital.
After three years of work, a new film by the Oscar-winning director Jan Svěrák called Kooky opened in Czech cinemas on Thursday. It is about a teddy bear lost in a forest inhabited by various fantastic creatures. It is shot using state of the art technology, and features the director’s father and son as voice actors.