Prague book fair puts spotlight on comics, Israeli authors

Book World Prague, photo: Ondřej Tomšů

The annual international book fair and literary festival Book World Prague got underway on Thursday at the city’s Výstaviště grounds, featuring over 400 exhibitors from 22 countries. I spoke to Radovan Auer, the head of Book World Prague and asked him to tell me more about this year’s main topics, comics and the revolutionary 20th century.

Book World Prague,  photo: Ondřej Tomšů
“Concerning the comics, we prepared a special comics zone with a number of exhibitions.

“We want to present the comics scene in the Czech Republic but we also have some international names, such as Reihardt Kleist and Kati Närhi from Finland.

“Reinhardt Kleist will be drawing this afternoon with a live band to present his comic book about Nick Cave. So the band will be playing Nick Cave’s music and he will be drawing. And we are also celebrating 80 years of the Czech comic legend Rychlé šípy or Speedy Arrows.

“Concerning the Groundbreaking 20th century, we are holding big debates not only about literature but more about the social and political context of the 20th century. The people on stage will include Jacques Rupnik, Michael Žantovský, Tomáš Sedláček and many others.”

The guest of honour at this year’s fair is Israel. Who will be among the biggest Israeli stars?

“We invited five Israeli authors, both the legends and the up-and-coming authors. Today we will welcome one of the legendary authors David Grossman who won the International Man Booker prize for his book ‘A Horse Walks into the Bar’.

Kati Närhi,  photo: CTK
“We will also have Abraham Yehoshua and the thriller writer Dror Mishani. Among the young authors will be Asaf Gavron and Hadar Galron.”

What are some of the other highlights on the programme?

“One is the professional forum. We have a four-day programme dedicated to authors, publishers and translators. And for the young generation we prepared a so-called Humbook stage, because reading for children and young people is very important for us.

“So we prepared a special programme for the whole of Saturday dedicated to young adult literature which will be taking place in a special tent outside the main pavilions.”