When Sarah Perry’s first novel “After Me Comes the Flood” was published two years ago the reviews in the British press were superlative. Reviewers welcomed the book’s eerie and uncanny qualities, Gothic-smudged, as one critic put it. It is shortly to be followed by a second novel “The Essex Serpent” and now Sarah Perry is on a two-month residency in Prague, this time in search of a peculiarly Central European variant of the Gothic. In Czech Books she talks to David Vaughan.
Today’s edition of Sunday Music Show is dedicated to Vladimír Merta, one of the country’s best singer-songwriters and an excellent guitarist, who has just celebrated his 70th birthday. He marked the day earlier this week with a concert at Prague’s Akropolis, which was attended by a number of guest musicians, including Jaromír Nohavica, Vladimír Mišík and Michal Prokop.
There will be great excitement in the Czech art world on Friday when Ai Weiwei makes his first appearance in Prague. The world-famous Chinese artist and activist will be in town to officially open an exhibition of his Zodiac Heads at the Czech National Gallery, kicking off celebrations of its 220th anniversary. On the eve of Ai Weiwei’s visit, I asked the director of the National Gallery, Jiří Fajt, what the presence of an artist of such stature means to his institution.
Jana Kománková runs Proti šedi (which translates as “against the grey”), a highly useful one-stop website for anybody interested in arts events in Prague. She has been a well-known name in local alternative music circles since the early 1990s, as a deejay with Radio 1 and a critic with numerous magazines and newspapers. Remarkably the Prague-born Kománková began reviewing concerts for Rock & Pop at only 17. When we met at a café, I asked her how she’d managed to launch her career at such an early age.
We have spoken about the poet Ivan Blatný many times on Radio Prague, most recently when Martin Reiner published his award-winning novel about the poet in 2014. Blatný had an extraordinary life. At the age of twenty-nine and already a rising literary star in Czechoslovakia, he took refuge in Britain, just a few weeks after the communists came to power in February 1948. Not long afterwards he had a complete nervous breakdown and he spent most of the next four decades in various hospital and psychiatric institutions in southern England, where he died
The Bavarian State Opera in Munich, one of the world’s leading opera houses, will this weekend stage the world premiere of a new piece by the Czech composer Miroslav Srnka. Called South Pole, the opera tells the story of two teams racing each other to reach the most southerly point on Earth. Starring Rollando Villazón in the role of Robert Scott, it represents a major milestone for the composer.