John Banville┤s "Prague Pictures" - the latest
in Bloomsbury's excellent series, The Writer in the City
"Meandering among the stories and impressions of people he met, digressing into explanations of astronomy,
alchemy and Czech history, literature and folklore (somehow, with his light touch, they seem to merge
rather effortlessly), Prague Pictures is an affectionate visitor's account par excellence:
polite yet honest, shy yet warm.
John Banville traces Prague's often tragic history and portrays
the people who made it, the emperors and princes, geniuses and charlatans, heroes and scoundrels,
and paints a portrait of the Prague of today. He acknowledges that breathtakingly erudite, yet
romantically coloured and slightly mad, scholarly epic by Angelo Maria Ripellino, Praga Magica,
and admires the work of famous Czech photographer Josef Sudek, whom he met during his first visit to
the city, in the depths of the cold War. Banville is a brilliantly engaging storyteller, and here the
quick and the dead all take their cues in a narrative that loops about in time."
John Banville was the guest of the Prague Writers┤ Festival in 1998.
Source: Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Independent, PWF