Born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, on March 28, 1914, novelist Bohumil Hrabal spent decades working at a variety of laboring jobs before turning to writing in his late forties. From that point, he quickly made his mark on the Czech literary scene; by the time of his death in1997, he was ranked with Jaroslav Hašek, Karel Capek, and Milan Kundera as among the nation’s greatest twentieth-century writers. Hrabal’s fiction blends tragedy with humor and explores the anguish of intellectuals and ordinary people alike from a slightly surreal perspective. His work ranges from novels and poems to film scripts and essays and includes Closely Watched Trains (which was adapted into a film that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film in 1967), I Served the King of England, and Pirouettes on a Postage Stamp, the last also published by Karolinum Press.
To commemorate the centennial of Hrabal’s birth, Karolinum Press presents his short story collection Rambling On for the first time as Hrabal originally intended it. Several of the stories were written before the 1968 Soviet invasion of Prague but had to be reworked when they were rejected by Communist censorship during the 1970s. This edition features the original, uncensored versions of those stories available in English for the first time.
Later this year, Scots will take a historic vote: should they be free from the United Kingdom? It would be a major change for the country, and the New York Review of Books has just addressed the issue at hand, drawing on Reaktion’s new edition of Murray Pittock’s The Road to Independence?, with a forward by Alex Salmond. Read their thoughts in the March 20th edition, or online (paywall).
From lore to cooking tips to this fun fact: French pharmacists have been trained in mushroom identification. Listen to this great interview with Cynthia Bertelsen, author of Mushroom: A Global History, at WVTF radio: http://wvtf.org/post/mushroom-global-history
Thoughtful piece from Reorient magazine on the exhibition, The Fascination of Persia, for which Scheidegger & Spiess published this beautiful accompanying volume, at the Museum Reitberg in Switzerland
"The focus on Iran in an exhibition that is not only cross-cultural, but which also openly recognises the influence of the past on the present is a welcome endeavour in the curation of Middle Eastern art. Bypassing tired narratives of religious contrasts and strained politics, [it] presents a fresh interpretation of a mutual relationship and fascination between two worlds often discussed, but rarely understood and appreciated.”
English caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson, who died in 1827, satirized the royal family, British aristocracy, and legions of politicians, and social climbers. His colors are rich, his wit biting. Both are in ample supply in High Spirits (Royal Collection Trust). He delighted in drawing characters who can’t quite fit in their clothes and need a servant’s help buttoning up. Some targets tried to suppress his work, but at least one prince collected it, though come to think of it, maybe he merely wanted to keep Rowlandson’s parodies out of the public eye.
From “The Reckoning” to “Damage Control,” great last-minute gift ideas for the art lover in your life
Sharon Louden’s Living and Sustaining a Creative Live makes Salon.com’s list of 10 Best Art Books of 2013! @loudenstudio
In this day and age, when art has become more of a commodity and art school graduates are convinced that they can only make a living from their work by attaining gallery representation, it is more important than ever to show the reality of how an artist sustains a creative practice over time.
Alongside "Flights of Fancy: A History of Ballooning," The January 2014 issue of Harper’s includes Eduard Spelterini’s stunning aerial photography, including selections from the book Eduard Spelterini: Photographs of a Pioneer Balloonist (Scheidegger & Spiess).
"Art collector Anna Lenz sat down with the wives of influential figures of the Epoche ZERO artists movement—strong women who supported the movement, with their own interesting careers, who happened to be her friends. The resulting interviews are a fascinating bit of art history but also a fascinating composite memoir and biography, a thoughtful look into what it is to be a muse, a wife, and a strong woman.”
The Typographical Translation Award finals!
The Jew Car by Franz Fuhmann published by Seagull Books made the list at number eight!