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Czech poet Wernisch to receive Franz Kafka Prize this year

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Prague, May 21 (CTK) – Czech poet, writer, journalist and translator Ivan Wernisch is the laureate of the Franz Kafka Prize this year, Jakub Haubert, from the Franz Kafka Society told CTK on Monday.

The prize awardee was selected by an international jury on Monday. The prize is being presented at the end of October in Prague.

The Franz Kafka Society has annually bestowed its prize since 2001 on contemporary authors whose literary works are exceptional in terms of artistic quality and can appeal to readers irrespective of their origin, nationality and culture, similar to the works by Kafka (1883-1924).

Wernisch, 75, is the fifth Czech to receive the only international literary prize granted in the Czech Republic.

The previous Czech laureates were Ivan Klima, Arnost Lustig, Vaclav Havel and Daniela Hodrova.

U.S. writer Philip Roth, Hungarian Peter Nadas, Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek, U.S. playwright Harold Pinter, Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, French poet Yves Bonnefoy, Austrian playwright Peter Handke, Irish John Banville, Israeli Amos Oz, Chinese writer Yan Lianke and Spanish Eduardo Mendoza were among the foreign laureates of the prize.

Wernisch was born in Prague, studied at an industrial ceramic school in Karlovy Vary. Already during his studies, he published his first poems in the Host do domu and Tvar magazines. After the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, he became a prohibited author and had various odd jobs. His works were published until the collapse of Communist in 1989 in samizdat and abroad only. In 2012, he was granted the State Prize for Literature.

His poetry reflects dream-like fractions of reality. He often uses neologisms and his work results in existentialism. He is one the chief authors of the 1960s literary generation. Kam leti nebe (1961), Zimohradek (1965) and Duty breh (1967) were his first collections. His later collections included Doupe latinaru (1992), Pekarova nocni nuse (1994), Lasku ja nestojim (2001), Hlava na stole (2005), Nikam (2010), Na brehu (2014).

Apart from collections of poems, he also composed several anthologies. The Czech ‘Plastic People of the Universe’ underground band used his poems as its lyrics.

He also translates from German, French, Italian, Flemish, Russian and Latin and his books were published in translations in a number of countries abroad.

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