What happens when five women poets writing in five different languages meet on the edge of a Hungarian lake? As we find out now in Czech Books, the experience can offer rich insights into what different languages and cultures have in common, and where they differ. David Vaughan talks to the poet Kateřina Rudčenková.
It has been a good year for Czech jazz legend Emil Viklický, beginning with a Presidential Medal of Merit and ending with the release of two new albums, one in Germany called “Spring Awakening” and another in Japan, where he plays regularly, called Kafka on the Shore, a Tribute to Haruki Murakami. In the first part of a wide-ranging interview with the pianist we began by talking about his English, which he told me he originally picked up from his black fellow musicians in the 1970…
Back in the mid 1990s Tomáš Zilvar quickly moved from putting together DIY fanzines to publishing glossy titles like Tripmag and XMAG, magazines that were focused on electronic music at a time when that genre was really taking off among young Czechs. Today Zilvar, who is still in his early 30s, has two jobs: running the Prague office of the hip New York-based magazine and website Vice; and offering digitalisation services to Czech media outlets and authors keen to enter the age of e-readers.
In today’s Sunday Music Show we will feature the greatest hits by the Czech pop-music composer Karel Mareš who died last month at the age of 84. A composer, lyricists, pianist, screenplay writer, theatre and film director, theatre manager as well as an occasional actor, this inconspicuous “man at the back” had a significant influence on the development of Czech popular music of the 1960s.
Last month was the end of an era in Czech poetry. The man who practically embodied the poetic underground of the 1970s and 80s, Ivan Martin Jirous – alias Magor, or Loony in English – died at the age of 67. Not only was Magor one of best Czech poets of his generation, but also the driving force behind the underground rock scene. He embodied the longing for rebellion and freedom, as so-called “normalization” sucked the air out of Czech and Slovak society. In Czech Books, David Vaughan talks to one of Magor’s close friends and associates.
A Czech architectural landmark has provided the backdrop, and indeed central theme, for a book which has been creating a stir in the literary world. The Glass Room by Simon Mawer tells the story of a modernist villa in a Czech town, from conception to construction, eventually to seizure by the state. The Glass Room has been receiving a great deal of publicity ever since it was nominated for the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Over the phone from his home in Italy, author Simon Mawer voiced his bewilderment as to why his book was proving so popular
It would be hard to meet a Czech whose childhood was not touched (perhaps unconsciously) by the art of Jiří Trnka, a painter, puppeteer, illustrator and above all, the founding father of Czech animated film. His poetic drawings brought immortality to books that would otherwise be long forgotten. And his animated films bestowed dozens of puppets and drawings with life.
The world-renowned jazz guitar player Rudy Linka was born in Prague but moved to Sweden at a young age. After half a decade there he left for the US, and has been living in New York for nearly a quarter of a century. In recent years, however, Rudy has been home in the Czech Republic every summer, organising the Bohemia Jazz Fest, a great free event which brings world class jazz musicians to a number of Czech towns and cities. We met at Café Slavia, one of the haunts of his teenage years.
Berenika Kohoutová is a name you are probably going to hear more and more in the coming months and years. Here a successful actress, there a rising star of the Czech music scene, the talented 20-year-old is making a good name for herself both on TV and in appearances on stages around Europe, formerly with the ska ensemble Disco Balls and now with her own project Femme Plastique.