Patrik Ouředník

Patrik Ouředník

Novelist, translator and essayist, linguist, author of books for children and adults. He is the recipient of the State Prize for Literature (2014), the Tom Stoppard Prize (2013) and dozens more French and Czech literary prizes. He is one of the most widely translated Czech authors – his Europeana has been published in more than 30 languages, making it the most translated post-1989 Czech book. He was born in Prague on 23 April 1957.


Title Publisher Year Selected published translations Awards
The key is in the taproom (Klíč je ve výčepu) Volvox Globator 2014
On the Free Exercise of Language (Svobodný prostor jazyka) Torst 2013  2013 Tom Stoppard Prize
Today and After Tomorrow (Dnes a pozítří) Větrné mlýny 2012 FR | IT
A Treatise on Wine Drinking (Pojednání o případném pití vína) Volvox Globator 2012 ES | IT | FR
Europeana. A Brief History of the Twentieth Century (Europeana: Stručné dějiny dvacátého věku) Volvox Globator 2012 NO | FR | NL | IT | RU | SV | ES | EN | PL | DE  2001 Lidové Noviny Book of the Year
There Is Nothing New Under The Sun (Aniž jest co nového pod sluncem) Volvox Globator 2011
It Was Utopus Who Made Me an Island (Utopus to byl, kdo učinil mě ostrovem) Torst 2010
The Extraordinary Adventures of Prince Chicory (O princi Čekankovi) Dybbuk 2008
Europeana. A Brief History of the Twentieth Century (Europeana: Stručné dějiny dvacátého věku) Paseka 2006 NO | FR | NL | IT | RU | SV | ES | EN | PL | DE  2001 Lidové Noviny Book of the Year
Case Closed (Ad acta) Torst 2006 NL | IT | FR | EN
The Opportune Moment, 1855 (Příhodná chvíle, 1855) Torst 2006 NL | IT | EN | PL | ES | DE | FR
Šmírbuch jazyka českého Paseka 2005
Europeana. A Brief History of the Twentieth Century (Europeana) Paseka 2004 NO | FR | NL | IT | RU | SV | ES | EN | PL | DE  2001 Lidové Noviny Book of the Year
House of a Barefoot Man (Dům bosého) Paseka 2004 FR | DE
Year Twenty-Four (Rok čtyřiadvacet) Paseka 2002 DE
Europeana. A Brief History of the Twentieth Century (Europeana: Stručné dějiny dvacátého věku) Paseka 2001 NO | FR | NL | IT | RU | SV | ES | EN | PL | DE  2001 Lidové Noviny Book of the Year
A Treatise on Wine Drinking (Pojednání o případném pití vína) Tako 2000 ES | IT | FR
The key is in the taproom (Klíč je ve výčepu: Z folklóru WC) Volvox Globator 2000
In Search of Lost Language (Hledání ztraceného jazyka) Zdeněk Susa 1997
Not to Mention (Neřkuli) Mladá fronta 1996
A Treatise on Wine Drinking (Pojednání o případném pití vína) Volvox Globator 1995 ES | IT | FR
Year Twenty-Four (Rok čtyřiadvacet) Volvox Globator 1995 DE
There Is Nothing New Under The Sun (Aniž jest co nového pod sluncem) Mladá fronta 1994
The Extraordinary Adventures of Prince Chicory (O princi Čekankovi) Volvox Globator 1993
Or (Anebo) Volvox Globator 1992
Šmírbuch jazyka českého Ivo Železný 1992
Šmírbuch jazyka českého Edice K 1989
Šmírbuch jazyka českého Edice K 1988
Klíč je ve výčepu
The key is in the taproom
Klíč je ve výčepu
On the Free Exercise of Language
Svobodný prostor jazyka
Today and After Tomorrow
Dnes a pozítří
Pojednání o případném pití vína
A Treatise on Wine Drinking
Pojednání o případném pití vína
Europeana. A Brief History of the Twentieth Century
Europeana: Stručné dějiny dvacátého věku
Aniž jest co nového pod sluncem
There Is Nothing New Under The Sun
Aniž jest co nového pod sluncem
It Was Utopus Who Made Me an Island
Utopus to byl, kdo učinil mě ostrovem
O princi Čekankovi
The Extraordinary Adventures of Prince Chicory
O princi Čekankovi
Europeana: Stručné dějiny dvacátého věku
Europeana. A Brief History of the Twentieth Century
Europeana: Stručné dějiny dvacátého věku
The Opportune Moment, 1855
Příhodná chvíle, 1855
Šmírbuch jazyka českého
Šmírbuch jazyka českého
Europeana
Europeana. A Brief History of the Twentieth Century
Europeana
Dům bosého
House of a Barefoot Man
Dům bosého
Rok čtyřiadvacet
Year Twenty-Four
Rok čtyřiadvacet
Europeana. A Brief History of the Twentieth Century
Europeana: Stručné dějiny dvacátého věku
Pojednání o případném pití vína
Patrik Ouředník
A Treatise on Wine Drinking
Pojednání o případném pití vína
Klíč je ve výčepu: Z folklóru WC
The key is in the taproom
Klíč je ve výčepu: Z folklóru WC
Hledání ztraceného jazyka
In Search of Lost Language
Hledání ztraceného jazyka
Neřkuli
Not to Mention
Neřkuli
Pojednání o případném pití vína
A Treatise on Wine Drinking
Pojednání o případném pití vína
Rok čtyřiadvacet
Patrik Ouředník
Year Twenty-Four
Rok čtyřiadvacet
Aniž jest co nového pod sluncem
There Is Nothing New Under The Sun
Aniž jest co nového pod sluncem
O princi Čekankovi
The Extraordinary Adventures of Prince Chicory
O princi Čekankovi
Anebo
Patrik Ouředník
Or
Anebo
Šmírbuch jazyka českého
Šmírbuch jazyka českého
Šmírbuch jazyka českého
Patrik Ouředník
Šmírbuch jazyka českého
Šmírbuch jazyka českého
Patrik Ouředník
Šmírbuch jazyka českého
Award Year Country
State Award for Literature 2014 Česká republika
Tom Stoppard Prize 2013 Česká republika
Lidové Noviny Book of the Year 2001 Česká republika
Praise
Touching on subjects and events as disparate as the invention of the bra, Barbie dolls, Scientology, eugenics, the Internet, war, genocide and concentration camps, [Europeana] unspools in a relentless monotone that becomes unexpectedly engaging, even frightening.
—Anderson Tepper
The New York Times Book Review

After signing the VONS petition in 1979 calling for the release of political prisoners in Czechoslovakia he was forbidden from taking a university education. After several manual-labour jobs he emigrated to France in 1984. He wrote the literary column for the quarterly L’Autre Europe and he prompted the establishment of the Free University in Nouallaguet, where he lectured until 2010. He has published academic literary essays, an anthology on the history of Czech and French literature, and he was the first to make the poetry of Vladimír Holan accessible to French readers. He translates from French to Czech (Rabelais, Jarry, Queneau, Beckett, Vian) and Czech to French (Vančura, Hrabal, Holan, Skácel, Holub). He writes for both Czech and French magazines.

His first book to be published in France was Šmírbuch jazyka českého (Keeping an Eye on Czech Slang and Cant, Edice K, 1989), which contains more than sixteen thousand expressions which might be termed as argot, slang and ‘unconventional Czech’ from 1945 to 1989. It has been republished several times and first came out in Czechoslovakia in 1992 (Ivo Železný publishers).

There then followed the poetry collection Anebo (Or, Volvox Globator, 1992), a fairy story for children and their parents O princi Čekankovi (The Extraordinary Adventures of Prince Chicory, Volvox Globator, 1993) and more essayistic prose Aniž je co nového pod sluncem (There is Nothing New Under the Sun, Mladá fronta, 1994) – which this time contained expressions and idioms from the Bible. In the form of a kind of memory game, Rok Čtyřiadvacet with the subtitle Progymnasma 1965–1989 (Year Forty-Two: Progymnasma 1965–1989, Volvox Globator, 1995), attempts to find a description of reality from the everyday impressions of emigration. Each diary entry starts with the words “I remember…” and has no more than one paragraph. However, this can be added to or expanded each day, and thus Ouředník works with a smile and with surprising ideas.

The following poems, Neřkuli (Not to Mention, Mladá fronta, 1996), fluctuate between an everyday poetic document and linguistic or formal perfection, including the “rummager’s” humorous folk-style poetry. In 2004 the author published all of his existing poetry collections and other verse as Dům bosého (House of a Barefoot Man, Paseka, 2004).

Ouředník then added the collection Klíč je ve výčepu with the subtitle Folklor na WC (The Key is in the Taproom: Folklore on the WC, Volvox Globator, 2000) to his essays in search of linguistic peculiarities.

A year later saw the publication of one of Ouředník’s major works, Europeana: Stručné dějiny dvacátého věku (Europeana. A Brief History of the Twentieth Century, Paseka, 2001), for which the author was nominated the Magnesia Litera for prose. “True literature and art are not interested in the ordered step of history, but rather those kicks and blows which fall upon the individual walking past. To retell – but not to rewrite – the history of the modern age as a slapping match with the participation of people on the universal scale of European civilization, the continent of the Europeana, is therefore to establish a kind of historical itinerary of slapping, which is also a way to outflank history. Ouředník’s book shows that hope for literature is not completely lost,” wrote Jiří Peňás in a review for the weekly magazine Týden. The book was also adapted for the theatre and very quickly came out in Germany, Poland and Bulgaria, other languages then followed – within five years the total had reached twenty-one.

Příhodná chvíle, 1855 (The Opportune Moment, 1855, Torst, 2006) tells of the attempts to colonize North and South America through the stories of two colonizers testing the possibilities and limits of human solidarity, equality and freedom.

The main characters of the book Ad acta (Case Closed, Torst, 2006) are Prague pensioners, a detective and an art-student rape victim – although the book is to an extent humorous, it hides a harsh picture of life today. “The author is fascinated by French intellectual life and Czech backwardness in equal measure, both of which he is well versed in, and the passages in the book which are the most fun are where he skips between these extremes,” wrote critic Pavel Mandys in a review.

Ouředník also wrote the play Dnes a pozítří – Rozhovory pěti přeživších (Today and After Tomorrow, Conversations of Five Survivors, Větrné mlýny, 2012). His linguistic essays were collected to form Svobodný prostor jazyka (On the Free Exercise of Language, Torst, 2013).

Notable awards
 2014 State Award for Literature
 2013 Tom Stoppard Prize
 2001 Lidové Noviny Book of the Year
Foreign rights
Pluh
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