Congratulations to Jáchym Topol, who has been awarded the 2010 Jaroslav Seifert Prize, the most prestigious literary award in the Czech Republic. Topol, who has published five novels in addition to poetry collections, novellas and essays, was given the prize for his latest novel, Chladnou Zemí, or Cold Land, published in 2009. The prize includes 250,000 Kč presented by the Charter 77 Foundation, who also cited Topol’s activities in pre-1989 illegal publishing networks, as well as his work as a journalist, which includes helping to found Revolver Revue and the weekly news magazine Respekt.
In Chaldnou Zemí Topol again reexamines Czech and European history through the lens of his lyrical imagination. Set during World War II, the novel is split between the Terezín concentration camp, where the protagonist is born and raised, and Belarus, where the genocide against Belorussians perpetrated by Nazis and Soviets during World War II is investigated through personal and emotional means.
No English translation of Chladnou Zemí has been published, but that may soon change. Translator Alex Zucker told The Prague Post that Chladnou Zemí is the book he would most like to translate, although a UK publisher has already purchased the rights to the book, and will have the final say in who translates it, and when.
Read interviews with Zucker and Topol in upcoming issues of The Prague Post.