Brexit was the suggested (but not compulsory) theme in this year’s writing competition. This theme produced some quality and unusual entries. One involved a journey through a Far Eastern jungle, meeting first a magic crocodile and then a priest talking about Brexit. Another compared Kafka’s hero waking up to find he’s turned into a giant insect to someone waking up to learn that the British have voted for Brexit. Yet another likened Brexit to performing bulldogs voting to leave a circus.
This year’s entries came not only from our own three home countries of Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Britain but also from far and wide: from India and the USA, and – both firsts for us – Indonesia and Zimbabwe. Notable among the other entries were the thoughts of an Englishwoman serving a sentence in a Czech prison. Another consisted of political banter between two men drinking and working in a Slovak plum orchard. We also had a wry account of a visit as a youth worker to Czechoslovakia in 1971, which resulted eventually in the author settling in Ostrava; an ingenious comparison of the EU to a group of retired friends in Scotland meeting regularly for lively topical discussions; and a fantasy set in a mysterious velvet cavern hidden in the mountains.
Deciding on two winners was difficult. But the judges managed it. Thank you, judges.
Both of the 2017 winners were factual essays rather than short stories. The second prize of £100 has gone to Anmol, a 20-year–old law student in New Delhi in India. His well-researched piece is entitled Brexit – Accompanying Uncertainties and Diverse Opportunities, and is an analysis of the economic and other effects of Brexit as they could influence the relations between Britain, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Brexit was our suggested theme but was not compulsory. The criteria were, as before, that entries should have as their subjects either the links between Britain and the Czech or Slovak Republics (or their predecessor states), or society in transition in the Republics since 1989.
Our first prizewinner (winning £300) chose not to follow the Brexit path but to write about a striking architectural connection between Czechoslovakia and Britain. His piece is called Honzík & Yorke: How a Czech Architect Became the Prime Mover in the Ascent of Modern Architecture in Great Britain. It’s an account of the career of Karel Honzík, and of the influence he and the Slovak architect Eugene Rosenberg had on modern British architecture from the 1930s onwards.
The author is Ivan Margolius. Ivan is an architect – and an expert on automobile history, and Tatra cars in particular – who studied in Prague and who has lived in Britain since 1966.
Our picture shows Ivan (left) receiving his prize at the BCSA’s Annual Dinner in London on 17 November.
Congratulations to all who entered the 2017 competition – and thanks for making it such a success.