This years’ Magnesia Litera Award for best blog went to Humans of Prague, a website featuring street portraits and interviews collected in the streets of the Czech capital. Established three years ago by Tomáš Princ, the blog has to this day featured over one thousand portraits and has attracted over 88,000 Facebook followers.
Today it is easy to forget that Prague’s Letná Park overlooking the city once served as a pedestal to the largest statue in the world of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Derisively referred to as ‘fronta na maso’ (queue for meat), the massive granite work featured the marshal followed by a line of anonymous ‘heroes of the proletariat’. Prague was freed of the sculptural monstrosity in 1962; now, thanks to a film crew shooting the story of sculptor Otakar Švec, Stalin will temporarily return.
Kateřina Čapková heads the Prague Gallery of Czech Glass, a not-for-profit organisation promoting excellence in glassmaking as well as offering a prestigious international award since 2008 which has attracted attention worldwide. The gallery also boasts a small depository and permanent collection – anyone interested in glass works should visit.
The Czech Republic is celebrating the 700th anniversary of the birth of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, whom Czechs perceive as the “father of the Czech nation” and the greatest Czech that ever lived. The anniversary is being marked by a wide range of events including exhibitions, conferences, themed tours and street parties which will peak on the anniversary proper, Saturday May 14. I asked Kateřina Pavlitova of Prague City Tourism about the highlights of the celebration.
Czech head of state Miloš Zeman is known for his controversial statements that keep him in the public eye. And this week he stirred up a strong response after suggesting that public service television broadcaster Czech Television be nationalized because it is, he alleges, a mouthpiece for one political party alone. And the president appears willing to follow up his words with action.
Last Saturday Trabant fans from around the country descended on Prague’s Motol district, in the western suburbs of the city, for the opening of the one-and-only Trabant Museum in the Czech Republic. The small two-cylinder vehicle born in communist East-Germany as an affordable car for the masses was neither affordable, nor easily accessible, but somehow or other the smoke-belching, sluggish Trabi has won many people’s hearts and still has fan clubs around the world.
Gabriela Gunčíková will make history in Stockholm on Saturday night when she becomes the first Czech to take part in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest. The Czechs have had a rather cool relationship to the competition and Gunčíková is only the country’s fifth entrant. So how has she succeeded where Kabát and others have failed? That’s a question I put to historian Dean Vuletic, a specialist in the Eurovision who previously lived in Prague and is currently in Stockholm.
A new graphic novel has just been published to mark the upcoming 700th anniversary of the birth of the famous Czech ruler Charles IV. Entitled Charles IV: Master of the World, the comic book’s aim, at least in part, is to map his transformation from young prince to Bohemian king and Holy Roman Emperor.
Milan Kundera is not the only Czech novelist who has chosen to write in French. The writer and painter Lenka Horňáková-Civade has been in France for the last twenty years, living for most of that time with her French husband amid the beautiful countryside of Provence. The landscape and people of the region have inspired her to write several books in Czech, but she decided to write her latest novel directly in French, a language that she only learned as an adult. Paradoxically, the book takes us not to Provence, but to Czechoslovakia, telling the