Monday, 23 October 2017

Prague may offer luxurious flat in centre to guest writers

ČTK |
21 August 2017

Prague, Aug 20 (CTK) - Prague plans to offer one or two luxurious flats in the reconstructed house in the centre where Jewish German writer Franz Kafka was born to foreign writers who would not pay rent, but write a book in which the Czech capital would play the main role, Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) has reported.

The house situated near Old Town Square, which was used by the City Hall in the past, is now empty. Luxurious apartments are to be built there during an overall reconstruction for more than 100 million crowns, MfD wrote in its Saturday issue.

"One or two would be designated for foreign writers. They would come to Prague for several months and write a book there that might make the city famous all over the world," Eliska Kaplicky Fuchsova (ANO), head of the City Hall's culture and tourism committee, told MfD.

Prague would like to invite Nobel Prize laureates and other awarded writers as well as the authors of bestsellers whose books set in Prague might attract more tourists to the city, MfD writes.

The paper also points to other bestsellers that attracted people to European cities, such as U.S. Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code set in Paris and London. It readers wanted to see the localities that the book's characters visited.

The Prague City Hall has not mapped yet whether famous writers would be interested in its offer of creative stays, MfD adds.

The Prague councillors are to debate the idea of Kaplicky Fuchsova in October.

However, even if she failed to push it through, it would not mean that foreign writers cannot stay in Prague now and use its motives in their novels and poems, MfD writes.

Two years ago, the Prague Municipal Library launched a project of residential stays for foreign writers, who had at least one book published. The interest in the programme is high, the paper writes.

"Every year, we receive more than 100 applications of which we select six writers whom spend two months in Prague each," Katerina Bajo, coordinator of the Prague - City of Literature project, said.

Eleven writers have already stayed in Prague and are writing books in which they mention the city within the project.

These writers cannot count with a luxurious apartment in the centre, but they are accommodated in ground-floor flat in a prefab building at a housing estate in the Barrandov neighbourhood.

Along with accommodation, Prague covers their travel costs and pays them a scholarship of 600 euros a month. The stay of one foreign writer costs from 50,000 to 70,000 crowns, including the costs of the promotion of the events in which the invited writers take part. In return, they are expected to create a literary work connected with Prague.

"If the author does not meet our conditions, we may terminate the contract and they will leave," Bajo said.

The guest writers should present part of the book featuring Prague before the end of their two-month stay. However, the contract does nor specify the deadline for completing the book.

"Naturally, it may happen that the writer will never complete the book since Prague does not suit him, but such is life," Municipal Library spokeswoman Lenka Hanzlikova told MfD.

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