Czech Republic Archives | The Short Story Project

“I am nothing but literature,” he self-proclaimed, “and can and want to be nothing else.” Franz Kafka, born in Prague in 1883, to a German-speaking Jewish family, wrote in German and left one of the most influential philosophical and literary legacies in the 20th century. Kafka worked as a clerk in an insurance company, and in his spare time – worked on his writing. The term “Kafkaesque” refers to a view of society described in Kafka’s writings. Alongside his famous texts, The Trial (Der Prozeß), The Metamorphosis (Die Verwandlung), and The Castle (Das Schloss), Kafka has also written short stories and fragments which he called “observations.” Like other great writers, such as Flaubert, Kafka’s personal writings – his diaries and the letters to his lovers – were widely published posthumously. In one of his most-known personal piece of writing, “Letter to the Father,” he comes to terms with his alienated father. In 1924, at the age of 40, Kafka died from laryngeal tuberculosis. In his will, he asked to burn all his writings. His close friend, author Max Brod, chose not to honor his request.

Jáchym Topol was born in Prague in 1962. In the eighties, he began publishing subversive poems and established himself as a familiar spokesperson for Czechoslovakia’s fringe culture. Until the early nineties, he was a member of the underground band Psí vojáci. In 1988 he won the Tom Stoppard Award, which has been awarded to Czech writers since 1983. In 1994, Topol turned to prose and published his first novel, Sister, which critics quickly hailed as the book of the decade, turning it into a cult novel. Topol has contributed regularly to the daily newspaper Lidové noviny, focusing mostly on social issues, minorities, and marginalized groups. In 2012 he presented his candidacy to the Czech senate for the Green Party but withdrew a few months later for health reasons. In 2009 he published a short novel titled Chilly Land, for which he received the 2010 Cena Jaroslava Seiferta award, one of the most prestigious awards in the Czech Republic. Topol also published plays and short stories as well as a collection of Native American stories that he edited. Today he lives in Prague with his wife and two daughters.      

 

Jaroslav Hašek (1883-1923) was a Czech journalist, satirist, and author. He has written over 1,500 short stories, a portion of which were collected to became his major work of prose, the novel The Good Soldier Švej. On the futility of war and his own sincere agenda toward his readers, he has written the following: “It is very important for me to educate the honorable public, what strange things are happening in the world, so that after reading this book, they can draw new strength and love the world again, so they will know how to move on on our miserable planet without losing hope.”