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The British writer Simon Mawer will talk about his latest book Prague Spring, a complex love story set amid the drama of 1968, and his fascination with Czech history. Mawer’s novel Mendel´s Dwarf, inspired by Gregor Mendel, one of the fathers of genetics and the abbot of a Brno monastery, was followed by another Brno story, the Man Booker Prize shortlisted The Glass Room revolving around Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s famous Villa Tugendhat. With Prague Spring Mawer transfers his focus to Prague and the period of the Soviet-led invasion in August 1968, once again poignantly capturing the lives of people who are caught up in the wheels of history. Chaired by David Vaughan.
It’s the summer of 1968, the year of love and hate, of Prague Spring and Cold War winter. Two English students, Ellie and James, have just hitchhiked their way to Prague, where Alexander Dubcek’s ‘socialism with a human face’ is smiling on the world. Meanwhile Sam Wareham, a first secretary at the British embassy in Prague, is observing developments in the country with a mixture of diplomatic cynicism and a young man’s passion. Accompanied by his Czech girlfriend Lenka, Sam finds a way into the world of Czechoslovak youth, its hopes and its ideas. It seems that, for the first time, nothing is off limits behind the Iron Curtain. Yet the wheels of politics are grinding in the background. The Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev is making demands of Dubcek and the Red Army is massed on the borders. How will the looming disaster affect those fragile lives caught up in the invasion?
Prague Spring, published in paperback by Abacus, May 2019
Simon Mawer was born in 1948 in England, and spent his childhood there, in Cyprus and in Malta. He then moved to Italy, where he and his family have lived for more than thirty years, and where he taught at the British International School in Rome. Simon Mawer is the author of eleven novels and two non- fiction books, including the Man Booker shortlisted The Glass Room, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky and Tightrope.
David Vaughan is a writer, broadcaster, journalist and university lecturer. His debut novel Slyšte můj hlas (2014) won the Czech Book Prize readers’ award in 2015. The book has just been published in English by Jantar Publishing as Hear My Voice. He is also author of Battle for the Airwaves (2008), a study of the role of the media in the run-up to WWII. For eight years he was editor-in-chief of Radio Prague and previously he was the BBC’s Prague correspondent.
“Superbly written, poignant and polished, this story will haunt you” The Sunday Mirror
“As good as anything Simon Mawer has written; which means it is very good indeed.” Allan Massie in the Scotsman
The Glass Room
“…Mawer’s control of his themes of language, desire, memory and the power of place is extraordinary…” The Daily Telegraph.
“…A thing of extraordinary beauty and symmetry.” The Guardian
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