Noir fiction and the sub-genre Urban Noir do not have a long-standing tradition in Czech writing, where the emphasis for many years was on classic mysteries and detective stories. But that didn’t stop the independent Brooklyn-based publishing house Akashic Books from addressing Czech publisher Paseka with the idea of adding Prague to its long running urban noir series.
In 2007 when businesses were closing down as a result of the global crisis, Leon Jakimič founded his lighting installations and glass artworks company Lasvit. Today it is one of the world leaders in its field, with offices in New York, London, Paris, Milan, Dubai and many other cities. Mr. Jakimič runs the company from Hong Kong but, on one of his many visits to the Czech Republic, he showed us around the Ajeto glassworks in Nový Bor where the company’s unique creations take shape.
The annual Prague Writers’ Festival, which brings together prominent writers and thinkers from around the world, gets underway in Prague on Friday. The 26th edition of the festival focuses on the theme of Crime and Punishment in a world where the destruction of universal human values often leads to extreme individualism. As always, the festival brings a number of guests, including US writer Chuck Palahniuk.
In this week’s Sunday Music we present up-and-coming singer-songwriter Barbora Mochowa. Dubbed the Czech Lana Del Rey, Barbora recently released her debut album Waiting for the White Raven – a collection of melancholic, soul-searching songs with a distinct “cosmic” feel. The willowy redhead with Russian roots says she draws inspiration from her own mood and the world around her.
It is exactly forty years since the first inhabitants started moving into the Czech Republic’s biggest housing estate, Jižní Město in the south of Prague. The local Chodovská tvrz gallery is marking this anniversary with an exhibition dedicated to the history of the district and to the everyday life of its inhabitants. Called Jižní město: From Utopia to Reality, it features large-scale models of the prefabricated houses, audio recordings, as well as art objects reflecting life at the so-called “Jižák”.
The Czech Philharmonic launched its new season on Thursday night with a concert at Prague’s Rudolfinum featuring the world-renowned US violinist Joshua Bell, who performed Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. The orchestra, which is to perform the same concert again on Friday, has also marked the new season – its 121st – with the release of two special albums. I spoke with the head of Czech Philharmonic, David Mareček, about the plans for the upcoming season, but I started by asking how the cooperation with Joshua Bell came about:
This year’s George Theiner Prize, which honours people who have helped to promote Czech literature abroad, went to Markéta Goetz-Stankiewicz. At the University of British Columbia she has devoted decades to promoting, translating and writing about modern Czech literature. It was also thanks to Markéta that many Czech playwrights, banned back home, managed to have their work performed on stages in Canada during the 1970s and ‘80s. She has worked just as hard to promote interest in the rich legacy of German writing from what is now the Czech Republic.
The Stanislav Libenský Award, founded eight years ago, is an international competition recognizing outstanding works in glass by art college graduates. This year’s winners were announced just recently and their work (as well as that of other finalists) is on now on view in a must-see exhibition at Prague’s DOX Centre for Contemporary Art.
One of the city’s most precious book collections is to be found in the Nostitz Palace Library in Prague’s Lesser Town. The Early Baroque building, former residence of the noble family of Nostitz-Rieneck, is now home to the Czech Ministry of Culture. The precious library within, which is only open to visitors on special occasions, is administered by the National Museum. I asked Richard Šípek who administers the priceless collection of ancient books to take me through the library and show me some of its treasures.