Benjamin Kuras: a Czech author who lives in England but still makes waves at home

Benjamin Kuras, photo: CTK

Benjamin Kuras is a Czech author and broadcaster who has lived in England for almost 25 years. Mr Kuras has written over a dozen plays and several books, such as As Golems Go and Is There Life on Marx?. In recent years he has penned polemical articles for several newspapers and magazines here in the Czech Republic. On Tuesday I caught up with Benjamin Kuras after a public discussion in Prague - at which he was quizzed on a wide variety of political questions - and asked him if his articles tackled political issues.

Benjamin Kuras, photo: CTK
"Yes I do write articles about Czech politics and try to send it up, and take the mickey out of them. And particularly to enrage as many politicians as possible."

Do you know if you're succeeding in enraging Czech politicians?

"Yes, I have had reactions from politicians occasionally, reacting to my articles. There was one once who called me an outrageous liar. And there are others who may have called me an outrageous liar in the past and occasionally thanked me for an article that they think is actually supporting their point of view."

Do you find living in England too long a distance from here, or does it give you some good perspective?

"It gives me a good enough perspective, particularly since I do come here every couple of months, but at the same time it gives me the safety of a London leafy suburb. I sometimes say that I have a bullet proof vest, which is the English Channel, which means that I can probably go further in than the sarcasm and the criticism of Czech politicians than a resident Czech could."

Can you tell me a little bit about your history and how you ended up in England?

"I just decided in 1968 when the Russian tanks came in that I wanted to go further west and ended up in England. I'm grateful in a sense, in a kind of perverse sense, that it happened because otherwise I would not have found the motivation to go and live somewhere else. And I'm glad I did that."

So you won't come back here to live?

"I never say never, but at this stage I don't see it as very feasible. I would lose the overview that I have from England. That might deprive me of the angle from which I'm writing."

Do you find it strange that you live there but you have a profile here?

"I have a profile here because it's a smaller country and it's easier to have a profile here than it is in England - there's a lot more competition there than here."

By the way, as well as being a writer, Bejamin Kuras is also well known as a BBC World Service broadcaster. What many people may not know, is that Mr Kuras began his radio career at Radio Prague, when he worked here for several months in 1968.