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Celebration: Hrabal's 100th Birth Anniversary!

(This article expired 15.04.2015.)

Date: 15 May 2014 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM, Venue: Embassy of the Czech Republic

On May 15, at 6 pm, the Embassy of the Czech Republic, in collaboration with Archipelago Books, invites you to a poetic evening of readings and music in celebration of Czech author Bohumil Hrabal’s 100th Birth Anniversary, with opening remarks by Pulitzer Prize-winning book critic Michael Dirda of The Washington Post, readings and the launch of Hrabal’s newly published book Harlequin’s Millions translated by Stacey Knecht, and music performed by Czech-Argentine classical pianist Fabio Banegas Jiříček.

Hrabal Invitation
The evening will include a reading of excerpts from Harlequin’s Millions read by Stacey Knecht and a selection of Czech music composed by Dvořák, Smetana, and Janáček, performed by Fabio Banegas Jiříček on the piano.

Location: Embassy of the Czech Republic   
3900 Spring of Freedom Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008   

RSVP by May 13: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/invite-celebration-of-czech-author-bohumil-hrabals-100th-birth-anniversary-tickets-11469687143 (Please cut and paste the link into your browser if it does not work directly)     

Bohumil Hrabal
Bohumil Hrabal (1914 – 1997) was one the most beloved Czech authors of the 20th century and his work has been published in over 24 languages. Although Hrabal had a law degree from Charles University, he worked numerous odd jobs, including as a salesman, train dispatcher, and laborer ―which he drew from in his writing. He did not publish his first work until he was almost 50 years old. Many of his stories have been made into films, including Larks on a String (1969), Cutting It Short (1980), and Closely Watched Trains (1965), which won the 1967 Academy Award for best foreign film. After the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, Hrabal’s work was banned. When the country achieved its independence in 1989, Hrabal’s underground works from the 1970s were published, including I Served the King of England  and Too Loud a Solitude. Much of the impact of Hrabal's writing derives from his juxtaposition of the beauty and cruelty found in everyday life.  

Harlequin’s Millions        

One of the last novels of Bohumil Hrabal – the writer whom Milan Kundera called Czechoslovakia’s greatest – Harlequin’s Millions is set in a castle converted into a home for the elderly, whose eccentric, unforgettable inhabitants exchange phantasmagoric stories about their lives and their changing country in an attempt to uphold sight of the world outside of their confinement. Hrabal uses his aging protagonists to tell of Nymburk, the small Czech town in which he grew up, and explore the mythologizing power of memory. Poised on the threshold between joy and melancholy, this novel admits us into the mind of a woman coming to terms with the passing of time.

Stacey Knecht lives in the Netherlands. Her translations from Dutch, including Hugo Claus’s Desire; Marcel Moring’s The Dream RoomThe Great Longing, and In Babylon; Anke de Vries’s Bruises; Lieve Joris’s Back to the Congo; and Marga Minco’s The Glass Bridge have won awards in the US and the UK. She is currently translating an anthology of Hrabal’s short stories.

Fabio Banegas Jiříček is a Czech-Argentine classical pianist residing in the United States. He studied under Prof. Nelly Gabús and Prof. Ana María Cué at the College of Music of the National University of Rosario (UNR) where he obtained the National Professorship in Music Degree and a Diploma in Piano Performance. He continued his education at California State University in Fullerton (CSUF) under Dr. Susan Svrček, earning his Master of Music in Piano Performance and furthered his studies with Prof. Nina Scolnik. He developed a specialization and researched the complete piano repertoire of his mentor José A. Bottiroli and Belgium-French composer César Franck (1822-1890). As a soloist, he has performed with the Fullerton Symphony Orchestra and the Claremont Symphony.