The Czech Republic has a long tradition of horse racing and the most celebrated race of all is the Great Pardubice, or Velká pardubická. This is Europe’s most challenging steeplechase and is being run this weekend. There are many stories surrounding the race, but perhaps the most interesting – and certainly one of the least known – is that of the only woman to win the steeplechase. Her name was Lata Brandisová, and she won way back in 1937. Her remarkable story is the subject of a book, currently being written by the British journalist, Richard
In one form or another, the stereotype of the “squatting Slav” has likely made its way to your social media feed over the past few years. Wearing an Adidas tracksuit, smoking cigarettes, and swilling cheap vodka or cheap beer, the loitering Slav meme is—as most memes are—perhaps best left unexplained.
Prague-born novelist, travel writer and journalist/blogger Iva Pekárková has lived abroad for the better part of twenty-five years, having first defected to Austria in 1985 and then settled in New York before eventually putting down roots in London after stints back home in the Czech Republic, and extensive travels in Asia and Africa. In town for the Prague Writer’s Festival, we spoke about the influence of movement on her early work – from hitchhiking under communism and driving taxis ‘on both sides of the road’ – and her latest book, about a
Novelist and essayist Mark Slouka, a guest author at the ongoing Prague Writers’ Festival, was born in New York to Czech refugees who never should have married but stayed together for nearly half a century. For a time, their chaotic lives, often distorted to tell a greater truth, provided rich fodder for his fiction. When both were gone – his father dead, his long-estranged mother suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s – he found the courage to search for the true story behind her “descent into madness”. The Czech version of the resulting memoir,
Infinite Dance is the fifth and most fully realised LP yet from the Prague guitar-based group Please the Trees. The new record, which was part recorded in San Francisco, features no less a guest than US singer-songwriter John Grant on one song, while ex-Swans man Thor Harris plays marimba on a couple of tracks.
Ahead of the Day of Czech Statehood on September 28th, special screenings of the silent film “Svatý Václav” (Saint Wenceslas), accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of Prague, are taking place at the grandiose Municipal House, the very site of the proclamation of the Czechoslovak Republic one hundred years ago.
Rehearsal for Truth is a weeklong theatre festival dedicated to Václav Havel that gets underway in New York on Tuesday. Alongside plays and stage readings, it will also see the presentation of a human rights award and the unveiling of a new bust of the dissident turned president at Columbia University. I discussed the festival, which is focused on Central European theatre, with organiser Pavla Niklová of the Václav Havel Library Foundation.