Book World Prague 2024 has more to offer non-Czech readers than ever before

The motto of the 2024 edition of the festival is Kafka's quote "A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us."

The international book fair and literary festival Book World Prague, held annually by the Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers in the capital’s Výstaviště grounds, usually primarily targets the domestic readership, i.e. a Czech-speaking audience. But this year is a little different – largely due to the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest trade fair for books, announcing Czechia as its Guest of Honour for 2026.

Czech readers are generally the main audience of Book World Prague, but this year there’s much more on offer for people who don’t speak Czech, including something new entirely. As a result of the Frankfurt Book Fair naming Czechia its 2026 Guest of Honour, there has been visibly increased interest from foreign visitors this year, Radovan Auer, the head of the festival, told Radio Prague.

Radovan Auer | Photo: Markéta Kachlíková,  Radio Prague International

“We have a roughly 15 percent increase in the number of exhibitors, and as for speakers participating in the main programme, that increased from around 630 to 800 this year. The Central and East European Book Market, our platform enabling book industry professionals to meet and exchange experience, also has more than 90 participants this year, so we are seeing growth in all areas. But I can’t say that it is only because of us – the fact that we were announced the Guest of Honour at the 2026 Frankfurt Book Fair also had a very positive effect in that interest in Czech literature and the country in general automatically grew.”

Because of this increased interest, for the first time at Book World Prague there will be parts of the programme featuring Czech authors that will be interpreted into English and other world languages.

Photo: Radio Prague International

“In the past, Czech authors that presented here did it only in Czech, because really 99 percent of our audience were Czech readers. But because of the increased number of foreign guests and speakers this year and because we want to introduce Czech literature to international publishers and agents, we’ve chosen four blocks of Czech authors that we want to present, and their talks and discussions will be interpreted into world languages so that foreign guests can also enjoy it.”

There will also be many other parts of the programme suitable for book lovers and literary aficionados who don’t speak Czech. A large number of authors from Europe and beyond (including Jihyun Park, who escaped from North Korea in 2008 and wrote a book about her experiences called The Hard Way Out) are either delivering their talks in English or being interpreted into English.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas,  John Boyne | Photo: Penguin Random House

“It’s difficult to name all of the foreign guests because there are 60 of them, but to highlight a few important names: we have the exiled Russian author Lyudmila Ulitskaya, the king and queen of Nordic crime fiction the Ahndorils, i.e. the married couple who publish under the pseudonym Lars Kepler, and the German author Bernhard Schlink. I also shouldn’t fail to mention the Irish author John Boyne – everyone probably knows his book, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.”

Both Bernhard Schlink and John Boyne are widely known in the English-speaking world, even to those who aren’t necessarily book lovers, because they wrote novels that were turned into successful Hollywood films, coincidentally both released in 2008 and both about themes relating to World War II and Nazi Germany. Bernhard Schlink’s 1995 novel The Reader became a literary phenomenon and was made into a film starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, and John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was also made into a widely watched film starring Asa Butterfield.

This year, there will also be a heavy emphasis at the festival on Franz Kafka and German-language literature, as 2024 is the centenary of Kafka's death. But overall, Radovan Auer says the key themes of the festival are the same:

“For a long time we’ve had a programme section called Literature, Or the Voice of Freedom, dedicated to our key themes, the protection of human rights and freedom of speech. But the most important thing is simply to encourage more people to read more and different kinds of books.”

Book World Prague 2024 kicks off this Thursday 23 May and runs until Sunday 26 May at Výstaviště in Prague 7. Tickets can either be bought online at or at the book fair itself. You can check out the programme at and search for events in English.

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