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Contemporary Czech literature

 
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Contemporary Czech authors write not only in the Czech Republic but also abroad, where many moved during the socialist era. The shelves of bookstore are now full of new and interesting works from the pens of Czech writers.

 
 

The Czech language

Czech belongs to the West Slavic group of languages. From another perspective, Czech is an inflectional language, which means that the words “inflect” (their endings change according to the function of the word in a sentence). This is why Czech literature is very colorful and playful.

If you are interested in more information about the Czech language, read our article on this beautiful but difficult language .

Literature

After a long period, literary life developed in an uninterrupted and natural manner following the revolution in November 1989. The compromised Union of Czech Writers (Svaz ceskych spisovatelu) was replaced by the Society of Czech of Writers (Obec spisovatelu). Dozens of new publishing houses were established and have since been inundating readers with a flood of titles that were previously been banned.

Many interesting authors are also being published, at least some of whom we shall name: Michal Viewegh,Květa Legátová (a State Prize for Literature laureate), Jáchym Topol,Antonín Bajaja,Miloš Urban,Petra Hůlová , Emil Hakl, Jan Balabán  and Jiří Hájíček.

The books of the poet and writer Lenka Reinerová have also been well received. In Novermber 2006 she was awarded with Germany's Large Cross for service. Reinerova is considered to be the last Prague author writing in German.

Czech writers abroad

There are many Czech writers working abroad. Most of them emigrated previously for political reasons. For example, the Czech linguist, poet and translator Patrik Ouřednik has settled in Paris, in addition to Milan Kundera , who is probably the most widely known Czech author. The prose writer Věra Linhartová and the poet Petr Král also live in this city.

The dramatist and writer Pavel Kohout , who is celebrated in Europe, divides his time between Prague and Vienna. The name of the poet and prose writer Jiří Gruša is associated with Austria, where he served as ambassador for the Czech Republic from 1998 to 2004. He resigned from his post after becoming president of the international PEN Club.

The poet Ivan Diviš has lived in Munich since 1969, where he worked for Radio Free Europe. The Czech songwriter Karel Kryl also moved here (he died in 1994). The poet Antonín Brousek is a lecturer in Czech language and literature at the University of Hamburg. Vlastimil Třešňák also lived for a long time in Germany. He is now back residing in the Czech Republic. The artist and poet Karel Trinkewitz also divides his time between Prague and Hamburg.

The poet, prose writer and theater director František Listopad lives in Lisbon. Monika Zgustová, a Czech author residing in Spain, is also definitely worth mentioning.

Czech writers also sought a home in England. For example, the great Czech poet Ivan Blatný lived there in exile, as did the writer Jan Křesadlo. The outstanding writer and literary theorist Sylvie Richterová settled in Rome.

Czech writers are also to be found overseas. Josef Škvorecký , for example, lives in Toronto. Rio Preisner, a professor of German at the University of Pennsylvania, has settled in the United States, as have the poet Jiřina Fuchsová (who publishes under the pseudonym Hynek Král).

The writer and translator and noted diplomat Viktor Fischl lived in Israel up until his death in 2006.

Most prominent Czech authors of the 20th century according to literary categories and genres

Poetry

  • Jaroslav Seifert
  • Vladimír Holan
  • František Halas
  • Vítězslav Nezval
  • Josef Hora
  • Jiří Kolář
  • Jan Zahradníček
  • Josef Kainar
  • Ivan Blatný
  • Ivan Diviš
  • Oldřich Mikulášek
  • Bohuslav Reynek
  • Jan Skácel
  • Vilém Závada
  • Jan Zábrana
  • Karel Šiktanc
  • Ivan Wernisch
  • Egon Bondy
  • Ivan Martin Jirous

Fiction

  • Karel Čapek
  • Vladislav Vančura
  • Bohumil Hrabal
  • Milan Kundera
  • Ludvík Vaculík
  • Josef Škvorecký
  • Arnošt Lustig
  • Pavel Kohout
  • Ivan Klíma
  • Ladislav Fuks
  • Vladimír Páral
  • Jan Čep
  • Ota Pavel
  • Egon Hostovský
  • Jáchym Topol
  • Petr Placák
  • Ferdinand Peroutka
  • Michal Viewegh

Historical prose

  • Vladimír Körner
  • Jarmila Loukotková
  • František Kožík
  • Oldřich Daněk
  • Ladislav Fuks

Detective writing

  • Emil Vachek
  • Josef Škvorecký
  • Jan Zábrana
  • Eduard Fiker
  • Václav Erben
  • Jaroslav Velínský

Humorous writing

  • Jaroslav Hašek
  • Jaromír John
  • Karel Poláček
  • Zdeněk Jirotka
  • Jaroslav Žák
  • Petr Šabach

Travel writing

  • Karel Čapek
  • Jiří Hanzelka
  • Miroslav Zikmund

Science fiction

  • Ondřej Neff
  • Ludvík Souček

Literature for children and youths

  • František Hrubín
  • Jaroslav Seifert
  • Josef Kainar
  • Karel Šiktanc
  • Jiří Žáček
  • Jan Werich
  • Bohumil Říha
  • Eduard Petiška
  • Ota Hofman
  • Miloš Macourek

Literary and language institutions

National Library in Prague - The National Library in Prague’s Klementinum building is the biggest and most important library and information institution in the Czech Republic. Its stock of books contains almost 6 million units and represents a unique collection intended for study and research activity. It currently fulfills the function of a depositary archive for national literature. The most valuable collections of the National Library include 8,700 medieval manuscripts, 1,200 volumes of oriental manuscripts, a rare collection of almost 3,000 papyruses, 500 Indian manuscripts on palm folios, 3,500 incunabula (including the oldest Czech printings) and more than 70,000 old printings up to the year 1800.

Museum of National Literature - A specialized museum of the Czech Republic, which serves a collection-building, research, cultural, educational, instructional and methodological role.

Municipal Library of Prague - An extensive network of Prague libraries for the wider community of users.

Discover the history of Czech literature from its roots up to the first half of the 20th century in our article dedicated to the History of the Czech literature.

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Added: 09.12.2009
 
 
 

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