A guide to the nation’s capital under Nazi occupation has won the top Czech literary award. Guide to Protectorate Prague, which provides details of hundreds of locations and events that occurred in the capital during the war, picked up the main prize at Tuesday’s Magnesia Litera awards, along with the prize for best non-fiction book of 2013.
Never Sol is essentially the solo project of Sára Vondrášková, a songwriter and keyboardist whose rich, smoky voice belies her tender years. Her Jan P. Muchow-produced debut LP Under Quiet – which occasionally brings to mind the likes of Portishead or Muchow’s The Ecstasy of St. Theresa – has been nominated for Best New Act and Best Female Act in the Czech music industry’s Anděl music awards.
Fans of urban fantasy may be interested to learn more about “Come Hell or High Water” a trilogy written by New York-based author Stephen Morris – a former Eastern Orthodox chaplain at Columbia University. His series, set in Prague, not only blends past legend with the present, but meticulously works with occult European magical practices and beliefs.
The Association of Czech booksellers and publishers has launched a new campaign called ‘Books without VAT’ in order to drum up support for the existing 15 percent rate to be slashed. The centre-left government of Bohuslav Sobotka is due to discuss the matter, possibly lowering the VAT on books and some other items to as little as five percent.
This Tuesday sees Czech-born author Milan Kundera, who has lived and worked in France since the mid-1970s, turn 85. Although the Czech media has reported extensively on the occasion, it is no secret the author of acclaimed novels like The Joke and Immortality, has a complicated relationship with his homeland, not allowing novels after The Unbearable Lightness of Being to be published in Czech.
Burning Bush, which explores the aftermath of the 1969 self-immolation of Jan Palach, recently swept the boards at the Czech Lion film awards. The Best Director prize went to Agnieszka Holland, while among those collecting a Lion for Best Film was producer Tomáš Hrubý. Though still students at Prague’s FAMU film school, Hrubý and his business partner have already notched up a string of successes with their company Nutprodukce.
The Brno band Poletíme? describes itself as an original banjo-punk-future-jazz-band. Established in 2007 by artist and musician Rudolf Brancovsky it soon became a regular at clubs and festivals around the country. Its songs are a colourful mix of genres and are based on witty and often shocking texts –what the band calls “simple songs about a complicated life”.
Events around the Czech Republic are commemorating internationally renowned author Bohumil Hrabal who would have turned 100 this day. On the occasion I spoke to the Czech-born documentary filmmaker and photographer Jan Kaplan, now based in London, who was just a student when he first met the writer. He then became closer friends with Hrabal in the 1990s, giving him a tour of London. He has now opened a new exhibition of previously unpublished portraits of Hrabal at Prague’s Lucerna Palace.
This Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the most significant Czech authors, Bohumil Hrabal, who died in 1997. Events commemorating the author of Closely Watched Trains and I Served the King of England, are being held at venues around the country. I took the opportunity to discuss Hrabal’s life and work with Jakub Chrobák, a professor and specialist on Czech literature at the Silesian University in Opava.