Author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin visits Prague

Since Captain Corelli's Mandolin was published in 1995 it has become a huge bestseller and made its English author Louis de Bernieres very well known - both in the UK and around the world. The novel has been made into a film, which can now be seen at cinemas across the Czech Republic. Louis de Bernieres was in Prague on Tuesday to give a reading at the city's Municipal Library, a mere stone's throw from the Old Town Square. Ian Willoughby caught up with Mr. de Bernieres after the reading and asked him what had brought him to the Czech Republic.

"Well the British Council invited me to Prague...I think the first time was some years ago but I resisted because I'd been doing too much of this kind of thing and I just wanted to stay home and work. I have always wanted to come to Prague, everybody tells me it's a beautiful city. It is beautiful - it's fantastic. It's much less depressed than I expected. You obviously recovered from the old regime very quickly. It seems like a happy and beautiful place - I like it a lot."

The Czech translator of Captain Correli's Mandolin is Viktor Janis - not only did he translate the book, he also won two top Czech translating awards for his work. Mr. Janis also acted as Louis de Bernieres's interpreter during the author's visit. How did he enjoy translating Captain Correli's Mandolin into Czech?

"I actually cried two times. I enjoyed many scenes - mainly from the translation point of view because they were extremely difficult. I enjoyed the humour of it, I enjoyed the enormous compassion he has."

Do you often get to meet the authors you translate?

"Almost never - I once met Hanif Kureishi, but that was it. All those persons are so important and have so little time that I never ever see them. I'm very lucky if they answer my emails."

You spent the day with Mr. de Bernieres - how did you find him?

"He's a charming bloke."