If you happen to be in Poland right now, just get your arse in gear and run to the nearest Lidl! They have an excellent selection of cheap Czech beer in this week’s offer.
Just have a look at this video from Prostějov showing people almost killed by a rock flying from factory demolition. Although, luckily, no one gets hurt, the cameraman seems to be surprisingly cool about it, doesn’t he?
Following a two years’ closure, the metro station Národní třída in the centre of Prague has been opened today. Although the station hasn’t changed much below the ground level, it looks completely different above. The renovation of Národní třída station is related to the construction of a building complex called Quadrio, which should be opened for business by the end of the year.
/ photos: iDnes.cz
One thing worth remembering while reading Mariusz Szczygieł’s mordant “Gottland: Mostly True Stories From Half of Czechoslovakia” is that Franz Kafka was a Czech, and Szczygieł is not. He’s a Polish writer and journalist, looking with a kind of appalled fascination at his country’s southern neighbor and finding that life there can often be, well, Kafkaesque.
It turns out that the Czechs even have a word, kafkarna, that they use to describe “an absurdity that is impossible to explain rationally.” Because of the long periods of totalitarianism suffered by Czechoslovakia — a country born out of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I and dissolved into the Czech and Slovak republics in 1993 — the concept also has a nightmarish application, and that becomes Szczygieł’s true subject.
Readers who lived through the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe may wonder why Szczygiel, who won the European Book Prize in 2009 after “Gottland” was translated into French, feels the need to revisit the totalitarian times. He supplies an answer in an 85-word vignette about a young Czech pop music fan who thinks that Charter ’77 is a rock band needing “better P.R.” to get its work into stores, and therefore “should put some effort into the task.”
Mariusz Szczygieł confesses that initially he “wasn’t certain if anyone in the West would be interested in what a Pole has to say about the Czechs,” since “a representative of one marginal nation writing about another marginal nation is unlikely to be a success.” He needn’t have worried. “Gottland” offers an indelible account of the ravages of 20th-century totalitarianism and the way it continues to pollute human thought and behavior in the 21st century.
"Gottland: Mostly True Stories From Half of Czechoslovakia" by Mariusz Szczygieł has just been published in the United States. Read more about the book here.