“This year’s awards are an expression of appreciation for artists whose works have enriched Czech culture not only in our country but also in the world,” said Minister of Culture Lubomír Zaorálek.
On 28 October, the National Day of the Czech Republic, a jury appointed by the Ministry of Culture awarded the 2020 State Prizes and Prizes of the Ministry of Culture to eight individuals who have made a remarkable contribution to Czech culture.
This year’s State Prize for Literature was won by Michal Ajvaz for his outstanding body of work. It is the latest of several important domestic prizes the author has won. In the past he received Jaroslav Seifert Prize (2005) for his novel Empty Streets / Prázdné ulice and his novel The Luxembourgh Gardens / Lucemburská zahrada was awarded with the main prize Magnesia Litera - Book of the Year (2012).
Here is a list of selected Michal Ajvaz’s achievements beyond the Czech Republic:
the English translation of the novel The Other City / Druhé město: Amazon.com Editor's Top 10 Science Fiction/Fantasy Book of 2009, selected as one of the best books of 2009 by Time Out New York, selected as one of the best books of 2009 by Locus Magazine;
the English translation of the novel The Golden Age / Zlatý věk: voted first on Amazon.com Editor’s Top 10 Science Fiction/Fantasy Book of 2010, nominated for the Best Translated Book Awards 2011 (Three Percent, USA), honorable mention at Eurocon 2011 (Californian competition focused on English translations of science fiction and fantasy)
the French edition of The Other City / Druhé město / L'Autre Ville (Mirobole, March 2015) awarded Prix Utopiales Européen 2015, and shortlisted for Prix Mythologica and Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire 2016
Michal Ajvaz’s books have been published in 20 languages, and rights have been sold into two more countries.
Radim Kopáč wrote in the Czech daily Deník N: “In today’s Czech literature, it would be difficult to find an author more apolitical than Michal Ajvaz (b. 1949). Originally a poet, then a practitioner of the short story and the novella, he is these days primarily a novelist. His monumental fictional worlds are founded on a free-roaming imagination informed by surrealism, science fiction and magic realism. Ajvaz is the Marco Polo of Czech prose. His novels, notably The Other City, The Golden Age, Journey to the South, Empty Streets and last year’s 700-page opus Cities, work with motifs of mystery, journeys of adventure and places from dreams. They unfold in the manner of an ingenious computer game in which storylines jump between levels representing reality and levels presenting new worlds. On the one hand, we have postmodernism; on the other, we have myth, archetypal experience and ancient stories from the collective unconscious. An ideal symbiosis.”
On Michal Ajvaz’s latest novel Cities, Markéta Pilátová wrote in the Czech daily Hospodářské noviny: “As the events and cities pile up, they grow together in layers. And these layers are like swinging labyrinths suspended from the erudition of a novelist whose work leaves Czech literature in its wake.”
29. 10. 2020