The aim of the book will be to describe those crucial transition decades through the eyes of a relative outsider -- in this case me. I’ll be drawing on stories from my first trips to Czechoslovakia in the 1980s as a student and journalist and later, in the 1990s, as a resident expat, working as an editor at “The Prague Post” and co-owner of The Globe Bookstore & Coffeehouse.
The plan is to write the manuscript in English and then work with a translator to finish the text in Czech. The hope (I mean “plan”) is to have a finished manuscript in hand by the end of the year. Publication is set for the first half of 2021.
The idea for the book came at least in part from this blog. My editor at Albatros, Jan Dvořák, had liked my posts about Czechoslovakia during the 1980s and thought a general Czech audience might share his interest. I hope his instincts prove right. Until the coronavirus pandemic, the transition from communism to democracy had been the defining event of a generation of Czechs and Slovaks. Maybe readers will pine for those quieter “good old days,” when all it took was a nationwide uprising to push a forty-year totalitarian government from power.
I’m excited and intimidated by the prospect of presenting my stories in a way that’s both faithful to the events and (hopefully) relevant to Czech and Slovak readers. For friends out there who’ve been along for at least part of the ride in Central and Eastern Europe, don’t be surprised if I come to you in the near future for your own impressions, stories and photos -- to share experiences and to help jog my own memory.