Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997) was born in a Czech brewery and went on to become a steelworker and traveling salesman by day, and surrealist poet by night. He moved away from realism in the 1950s to experiment with the stream-of-consciousness style. Banned in his native country during the political upheaval of Prague Spring, Hrabal nevertheless won the prestigious Jaroslav Seifert Prize in 1993 and has been celebrated as genius by Julian Barnes, Susan Sontag, and Milan Kundera. Many of his characters were “wise fools” – everyday men taken to drunken monologues of inadvertent but acute insight. Two of his novels have been made into classic films by Czech New Wave director Jiří Menzel – Closely Watched Trains, winner of the 1967 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, and Larks on a String, winner of the 1990 Golden Bear. Before his death, Publishers Weekly named him the “most revered living Czech writer,” describing his work as “a humorous and breathless affair… [of] abounding energy and a rambunctious wit.”
Stacey Knecht is the translator of Marcel Moring’s The Dream Room, The Great Longing, and In Babylon; Hugo Claus’s Desire; Anke de Vries’s Bruises; and Lieve Joris’s Back to the Congo. She has been the recipient of several distinguished accolades, including the James S. Holmes Translation Award (1993) and the Vondel Prize (1996). She lives in the Netherlands.
Alex Zucker lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. His translation of Jáchym Topol’s The Devil’s Workshop (Portobello Books, 2013) received an English PEN Award for Writing in Translation, and his translation of Petra Hůlová’s All This Belongs to Me (Northwestern University Press, 2009) won the ALTA National Translation Award. He is currently translating novels by Tomáš Zmeškal, Heda Margolius Kovály, and Josef Jedlička.