People go to Prague to enjoy the beautiful city. There are tourists everywhere. So, for me it was interesting to be there for business – The Prague Book Fair. Walk the surprisingly empty streets just off the main tourist tracks. I stayed in a wonderful small hotel, Cerny Slon – the Black Elephant – just off the busy main square in the Old Town, yet quaint and quiet. And smelling of cooking, the old kind of real cooking that has never seen a microwave or a freezer. The kind of cooking my grandmother used to make: overcooked meat, slightly stale bread, gravy.
It was a strange experience to walk into a book store and ask for ‘Astrid a Veronika’ and be told by an excited girl behind the desk that the novel by ‘OlssonovĂˇ’ was almost sold out and was ‘very, very good’. I held one of the two remaining copies in my hand with a sense of excitement. As if it has nothing to do with me.
I suppose book fairs are more or less the same the world over. The venue for the Prague Book Fair, The Pr?myslovĂ˝ palĂˇc, the central building of the Prague Exhibition Grounds, is an impressive Art Noveau building. Sadly the left wing was destroyed by fire last year and the part of the book fair in this part of the building this year has to cope with rather difficult conditions. In spite of this there are lots of visitors and queues to many stands. I have no idea what to expect for my stage appearance, but discover that it is a very well organized interview on stage. My interpreter, Linda KaprovĂˇ, speaks flawless Swedish and also proves to be both professional and sensitive. The audience is surprisingly large and includes the Swedish Ambassador. I come away very grateful and very impressed.
This visit made it possible for me to meet my publisher Metafora, and the people there who have made my book such a success. Often, my publishers remain rather anonymous. Now I have a face to the name of the people here.
I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!