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Nov 24, 2008 12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

EUROPEAN BOOK CLUB - The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, by Peter Sís

Monday, November 24, 6:30 pm. Czech Center New York, 321 East 73rd Street, NYC



The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain
, by Peter Sís

Monday, November 24, 6:30 pm
Czech Center New York, 321 East 73rd Street, NYC

“I was born at the beginning of it all, on the Red side - the Communist side - of the Iron Curtain.” Through annotated illustrations, journals, maps, and dreamscapes, Peter Sís shows what life was like for a child who loved to draw, proudly wore the red scarf of a Young Pioneer, stood guard at the giant statue of Stalin, and believed whatever he was told to believe. But adolescence brought questions. Cracks began to appear in the Iron Curtain, and news from the West slowly filtered into the country. Sís learned about beat poetry, rock n roll, blue jeans, and Coca-Cola. He let his hair grow long, secretly read banned books, and joined a rock band. Then came the Prague Spring of 1968, and for a teenager who wanted to see the world and meet the Beatles, this was a magical time. It was short-lived, however, brought to a sudden and brutal end by the Soviet-led invasion. But this brief flowering had provided a glimpse of new possibilities-creativity could be discouraged but not easily killed.
By joining memory and history, Sís takes us on his extraordinary journey: from infant with paintbrush in hand to young man borne aloft by the wings of his art.

For anyone interested in history, memoir, or art, The Wall provides an astonishing fusion of all three. And while in the U.S. debates rage about where the balance between federal authority and civil liberties should fall, The Wall  will have readers thinking about just how fine the line between government intervention and oppression can become.

PETER SíS is an internationally acclaimed illustrator, author, and filmmaker. He was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1949 and attended the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague and the Royal College of Art in London. He began his career as a filmmaker and won the Golden Bear Award at the 1980 West Berlin Film Festival for an animated short. He has also won the Grand Prix Toronto and the Cine Golden Eagle Award, and in 1983 collaborated with Bob Dylan on You Got to Serve Somebody. His film work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
In 1982 he was sent by the Czech government to Los Angeles to produce a film for the 1984 Winter Olympics. But the film project was canceled when Czechoslovakia and the entire Eastern bloc decided to boycott the Olympics. Ordered by his government to return home, Peter decided to stay in the United States and was granted asylum. A correspondence with Maurice Sendak led to a meeting and Peters introduction to childrens book editors, and he moved to New York City in 1984 to begin a new career.

PETER SíS quickly became one of the leading artists in the field with the publication of the 1986 Newbery Medal Winner, The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleishman. With more than twenty books to his credit and almost as many honors, Peter is a six-time winner of The New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year for Rainbow Rhino, Beach Ball, Follow the Dream, Komodo!, The Three Golden Keys, and The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin. Komodo! and A Small Tall Tale from the Far Far North were each named a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book, and he has won a Society of Illustrators Gold Medal for Komodo! and a Silver Medal for The Three Golden Keys. Peters book Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei was a 1997 Caldecott Honor Book and has been published in English, French, German, Czech, Portuguese, Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Spanish. Madlenka, Madlenkas Dog, and The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin were all named New York Times Book Review Notable Childrens Books of the Year.

In addition to his prolific career as an author, PETER SíS has contributed more than a thousand drawings to The New York Times Book Review and his illustrations have appeared in Time magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Newsweek, Esquire and many other magazines in the United States and abroad.

He has designed many book jackets and posters, including, in 1984, the famous poster for Milos Formans Academy Award-winning motion picture Amadeus. More recently, he has completed a mural for the Washington/Baltimore Airport, a poster for the New York City subway system, and a stage set for the Joffrey Ballet. He lends his art to many mediums and will sometimes paint on any surface he can find — chairs, walls, eggs, boxes, seashells, even hats. Peter recently created a mural for New York Citys 86th Street Lexington Avenue subway station, working with the citys Metropolitan Transit Authority. His work has been exhibited in Prague, London, Zurich, Hamburg, Los Angeles, and New York in both group and one-man shows.


The European Book Club — a new program created by the Austrian, Czech, French, German, Italian and Spanish cultural institutes in NYC—offers you the unique opportunity to discuss well-known, contemporary novels of the respective countries. Whats happening in European literature today? Who are the new talents? What are the new trends? What are the latest must-read books in Europe? Find out for yourself at the European Book Club! The club will meet monthly at a different cultural institute.

Books will be read in their English translation.

Participation is free but prior registration is required.


To register and for more information, email europeanbookclub@gmail.com.


Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


Nov 24, 2008 12:00 AM - 12:00 AM


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