Literary roundup: New Czech novels and the real Magical Prague

Czech writer Jiří Hájíček was one of the names on this year’s Finnegan’s List when fellow Czech novelist, graphic novelist and playwright Jaroslav Rudiš selected his 2012 novel Rybí krev (Fish Blood) among the three books to be more widely translated into European languages. In this case more widely is easy to define as the book has yet to be translated, though to be fair it was published this year.

But don’t despair Jiří Hájíček fans out there who don’t speak Czech because his Magnesia Litera award winning Rustic Baroque (Selský baroko) has just been published in a translation by Gale A. Kirking.

From Real World Press: “Set in South Bohemia about a decade after the Velvet Revolution, Rustic Baroque recalls the tumult in the countryside during the 1950s collectivization of agriculture, sheds light upon the torn social fabric in the decades to follow, and characterizes how Czech people of all generations struggle to come to grips with the unresolved remnants of their past since totalitarian communists were driven from power in 1989. The story combines drama and mystery with history, architecture and a little romance against a background that is the natural beauty of South Bohemia.”

The book also contains selected stories from The Wooden Knife. An excerpt from the book is available at Amazon.

Freshta in the UK

The UK book launch of Petra Procházková’s Freshta is taking place from November 21 through 23 with both the author and translator Julia Sherwood participating in a series of events, including a book launch at Waterstones Sheffield, a conversation between author and translator, a London book launch at Word Free Centre and even a drinks reception. Publisher Stork Press has a page with the full schedule plus links to an interview with Procházková as well as Sherwood’s reflections on translating a Czech novel about a Russian-Tadjik woman in Afghanistan into English.

Magical Prague – L.A. version

The Prague Revue has an excerpt from City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte, a novel that’s jumping on the old magical Prague bandwagon with alchemists and dwarves and even a powerful US senator (Okay, well that last one’s a new addition). Magnus Flyte is a pseudonym for novelist Meg Howrey and TV writer Christina Lynch. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of books written by two people unless one of them is named Borges and the other is named Bioy Casares (and Howrey and Lynch aren’t pseudonyms for Borges and Bioy Casares) but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

What bugs me though is that I’m writing an essay on Leo Perutz, whose stories and novels about Magical Prague among many other magical and non-magical places and subjects he wrote about are invariably out of print in English (though you can get the excellent novel The Swedish Cavalier on Kindle for the mystical and inexpensive sum of $3.43). Some of his novels have never even been translated into English. I know I have only read a short excerpt of this new novel and I can guarantee it won’t be as good as any of Perutz’s books, but it will be much more widely read because much more widely published and publicized (One oddity: the book is being promoted as part of the Penguin Debut Author Program – but it’s only a debut because it’s a pseudonym. A bit cynical, no?).

I’m not saying you shouldn’t read City of Dark Magic. It could be good, but read Perutz first. He’s the real thing.

Photo – Prague Nostalgia by Oskar Kokoschka © DACS 2004

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2 Comments on “Literary roundup: New Czech novels and the real Magical Prague”

  1. 20/11/2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Thanks for this post. Perutz has been on my list of writers to read after seeing him mentioned in Clive James’, Cultural Amnesia.

    • 20/11/2012 at 10:08 pm #

      I’ll be writing more in the next few days.

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