Jachym Topol


Czech novelist, poet, translator and journalist Jáchym Topol (1962) is considered one of the most important European writers of the past two decennia. He is the author of poetry, novels, novellas, short stories and theatre plays. His work is invariably received with rave reviews and has so far been translated in fifteen languages.

During the communist regime of the 1980s, Topol assumed a pivotal role in the Czech underground. He wrote and published samizdat texts and was imprisoned several times as a result. His brother Filip Topol, also a writer and a musician, turned a number of Topol's samizdat poems into lyrics for his rock band Psí Vojáci. During the 1980s, Topol initiated several critical underground magazines, such as Violit (1982), Revolver Revue (1985) and Respekt. During the Velvet Revolution of 1989 Topol was a reporter for Respekt and in the following years he had two of his collections of poetry published. Miluju tě k zbláznění (‘I love you madly') in 1991, for which he was awarded the Stoppard Prize, and V úterý bude válka (‘The war will be on Tuesday') in 1992. Sestra (translated as City Sister Silver), his first novel which was written during a stay in Germany in 1993, and the novels that were to follow are all distinguished by a varied use of the colloquial and the poetic register. For his debut novel, Topol received the Egon Hostovský Prize for best book of the year, and his second novel Výlet k nádražní hale (A trip to the Train Station, 1995) was made into a film by Vladimir Michalek in 2001. His ethnology studies at Prague University resulted in Trnová dívka (‘Thorn girl', 1997), an anthology of Native American myths and legends translated by Topol. International acclaim came with the novels Noční práce (Nightworks, 2001) and Kloktat dehet (Gargling with Tar, 2005) and the novella Zlatá hlava (‘The golden head').

In 2010 Topol was awarded the Jaroslav Seifert Prize. English translations of Topol's work have been published by Catbird Press and Portobello Books.

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