The Franz Kafka society announced today that this year’s Franz Kafka Prize goes to writer and literary theorist Daniela Hodrová. There were a few years where the Kafka Prize was seen as a golden globe-like preview of the Nobel Prize for literature after Elfriede Jelinek and Harold Pinter won both in successive years. My guess is that most people outside the Czech Republic (and inside too) have never heard of Hodrová (myself included).
To learn more about the prize winner you can go to her page on the Czech Literature Portal. It’s a bit of a long-winded, not very clearly translated biography without any paragraph breaks, so reading it on Friday is probably not ideal. Hopefully, I’ll have time to fix it up now that I part-time work for the site. Due to the fact that czech society is not as heirarchical as many other countries they even include her e-mail, so I guess you can go ahead and congratulate her.
The prize is also certainly good news for newly established Jantar Publishing, which published a translation of Hodrová’s Prague, I see a city… in June 2011. The only other work of hers translated into English appears to be a monograph on Czech photographer Josef Sudek that she presumably contributed an essay in.
The Kafka Prize is awarded to a writer based on their entire body of work rather than a specific book.
Update: Having had to write for her desk drawer for the last decade of communist rule, Hodrová is likely a patient person and not unduly worried that she hasn’t achieved literary celebrity status (and who knows, she could be relieved not to have that). Nevertheless, this lifetime award follows her winning the Czech State Literature Prize last year for her 2010 novel Calling (Vyvolávání). I’ll get some information about that and other of her novels up soon.
And one important note – this is the real Franz Kafka Prize, awarded annually to writers, as opposed to the “we’re trying to pass ourselves off as a prestigious literary prize” Franz Kafka Medal that I first wrote about here (Kafka awards multiplying like cockroaches) and again here (Kafkaesque award hijinks ongoing).
Last year’s Kafka Prize went to Irish novelist John Banville, who gave a talk at the Kafka society’s underground (okay, basement) HQ when he came to Prague in October.
Photo – outside the door of Kafka’s former office that has been metamorphised into a hotel room. More pics and info on the room here.