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Articles tagged "Czech Literature"

Deciphering the Past Through Fiction: An Interview with Tomáš Zmeškal

Set in Czechoslovakia between the 1940s and the 1990s, Tomáš Zmeškal’s Love Letter in Cuneiform (Yale University Press, 2016), translated into English by Alex Zucker, follows one family’s tragic story in communist and postcommunist Eastern Europe. Josef meets his wife, Květa, before the Second World War at a public lecture on Hittite culture given by Bedřich Hrozný, the scholar who first deciphered the Hittite language....

Magdaléna Platzová’s “The Attempt”

On the face of it, The Attempt by Czech author Magdaléna Platzová’s (her latest novel and the second to be published in English) is an ambitiously large-scale undertaking. A reimagining of the events and people surrounding the assassination attempt, in 1892, of American art-collecting plutocrat Henry Clay Frick by Lithuanian Jewish anarchist Alexander Berkman, the story is narrated by a Czech historian transplanted to contemporary Manhattan,...

Travel by Train

Translation © 2015 by Meghan Forbes. All rights reserved.

Where Is My Home?

When I was looking for my aunt’s grave a couple of years back in the New Jewish Cemetery in Prague, I came across a section of maybe eight or nine recent burial mounds. I felt a sudden burst of gladness because, for all its oddness as a reaction, these recent deaths meant that there was still an active Jewish community. I’d visited the graveyard a few times; it’s where Kafka’s buried. What had struck me each time before was that the years of death on the tombstones...

The Week in Translation

what: Kafka Translated: A panel discussion on translating Kafka with Michelle Woods, Mark Harman (translator of The Castle and Amerika), Susan Bernofsky (translator of "The Metamorphosis"), and Alex Zucker (translator of contemporary Czech fiction). where: Czech Center when: Tuesday, February 11, 7pm more info: http://ow.ly/tsCPB what: French Literature in the Making: Jérôme Ferrari where: Maison Français of NYU when:...

Patrick Ourednik’s “Case Closed”

Let’s start with a question: What do you think is the biggest-selling Czech book of all time? Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being? The Good Soldier Svejk, by Jaroslav Hasek? Something by Havel, Hrabal, Klima, or Skvorecky? Well, the answer is Patrik Ourednik’s slim and odd anti-novel, Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century, an accumulation of errata, statistics, and technical digressions that somehow manages to become both a gripping read and a...

from “Angel”

The Windows Butch blinked. But it wouldn't go away. He could see it, the blood, like a red honeycomb, like a membrane, in his left eye. Then in his right. Before, the blood had poured from the sky, falling into his eyes. He'd had an urge to recoil, to curl himself up around the red spot spreading quickly across his retina, to envelop it in his muscles, tendons, bones, hair, everything that was undoubtedly him, and dissolve the vision inside him somehow. He soon realized it was...

An Odd Story

I glanced at the wreath against the tombstone and was amazed to read my own name on it: TO MY SECOND MOTHER—FROM KAREL HRABĚ. In our family there had never been anybody by that name. My father, Abraham Grafi, was the owner of a fairly respectable fabric store located on the oblong main square of a district town near Moravská Ostrava. There my mother, Sarah, spent her days in the cashier's booth. Every crown of the daily gross sales passed through her short...

V. Samsara

I have always been intrigued by the fact that cows in India are sacred. Unmolested, they roam the streets of towns and villages. In some parts they have a bell round their neck and a jasmine topknot on their head, sometimes they are painted. But mostly they are wretched. Gaunt, filthy and sick, they munch away on pounds of rotting waste, eating up slops, paper, or bits of material they find along the wayside. Drivers, rickshaw-men and pedestrians break their necks avoiding the cows...

How I Went to School

My mother said to me: "You must go to school, or they will lock up your father." There were five of us children at home, four girls and one boy. The eldest was my sister, then me, one year behind her. But I was stronger than her. And naughtier. So my mother said: "You will be the one who goes to school, because at home you only make trouble." My sister was to stay at home with the little children. She carried them around on her back, washed their nappies, wiped their noses and their...

A Report to an Academy

Esteemed Gentlemen of the Academy! I feel honored by your invitation to present the academy with a report on my former life as an ape. I am afraid, however, that I will be unable to comply with your request. It is now some five years that I have been separated from apedom-a short time according to the calendar, perhaps, but an eternity when you have to gallop through it the way I did. And even though I was accompanied, at least for parts of the way, by fine human beings, good counsel,...

from The Scent of Wheat

Monologue for the Stage A Tragicomedy * Dedicated to a great poet, who understands that despite Sarajevo, life offers something more than death. * Darkness. In the distance the sound of airplanes is heard in ever increasing volume. The scream of sirens, shortly thereafter the sound of bombs pummeling the ground. Noise, terrible noise. Suddenly silence. Children's voices from off-stage. Girl: I'm scared. Boy: Scaredy-cat. It's already over. You don't...

from The Opportune Moment, 1855

Patrik Ouředník's forthcoming novel imagines one of the most striking phenomena of the nineteenth century: the founding of "free" settlements in North and South America by Europeans aspiring to a "brighter tomorrow." These literally hundreds of utopian experiments had one trait in common-the rejection of both social and political revolution as advocated by communists, as well as by socialist and social Catholic reformers. The book, to be published in the fall in Prague and...

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