Writer in Residence Programme 2010

Jáchym Topol as WIR in Amsterdam

1 Apr-31 May 2010

Jáchym Topol is rooted in the Czech cultural underground of the seventies and eighties and was a key figure in this movement. He founded several cultural magazines and worked as a journalist and meanwhile made his first steps in literature by writing poetry.

It was in 1994 when he made a devastating entrance with his first novel Sestra (City Sister Sliver). Since then he published several other novels and especially his book Noční práce (Night Work) has met with great success abroad and has established his name as being one of the most important Czech, or more precise, European contemporary authors.

Topol’s writing began with lyrics for the rock band Psí vojáci, led by his younger brother, Filip, in the late ’70s and early ’80s. In 1982 he cofounded the samizdat magazine Violit, and in 1985 Revolver Revue, a samizdat review that specialized in modern Czech writing. Because of his father’s dissident activities, Topol was not allowed to go to university. After graduating from gymnasium he worked as a stoker, stocker, construction worker, and coal deliveryman. Several times he was imprisoned for short periods, both for his samizdat publishing activities and for his smuggling across the Polish border in cooperation with members of Polish Solidarity. He was also a signatory of the Charter 77 human rights declaration. During the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, Topol wrote for the independent newsletter Informační servis, which later became the investigative weekly Respekt. As of October 2009, he was on the staff of the daily Lidové noviny. He currently lives in Prague with his family.

His latest novel Chladnou zemí was published in 2009. The Dutch edition will be presented in April 2010 during Topol’s stay in Amsterdam under the title De werkplaats van de duivel (Ambo|Anthos Publishers, translator: Edgar de Bruin).

Topol is a guest at Border Kitchen festival in The Hague on 7 & 8 April. On the 13th of April Topol will be interviewed at 17 o’clock at the SPUI25 venue in the series De Levende Europese Literatuur (reservation required).

Other Topol titles available in Dutch (translated by Edgar de Bruin) are:

  • Nachtwerk, Ambo|Anthos Publishers, 2003
  • Spoelen met teerzeep, Ambo|Anthos Publishers, 2006
  • Het gouden hoofd, Voetnoot Publishers, 2007, novella