Love in Three European Forms


Three European authors – Polish author ­SABINA JAKUBOWSKA, MARIT KAPLA from Sweden and ONDŘEJ ŠTINDL representing Czech literature met in a debate to introduce themselves to festival visitors and present their books, for which they were nominated for the EU Prize for Literature. 

"I am a journalist, but I have dreamt of being a writer since I was a child. In the end, I am more of a journalist than a writer, although in my books the two professions come together. If I wasn't a journalist, I wouldn't be a writer either," Marit Kapla introduced herself to the visitors. 

This year's Czech nominee for the EU Prize for Literature Ondřej Štindl is a man of several professions. He is a journalist, writer but also a musician. In his case too, all of his talents are interconnected. "Rhythm is important in both literature and music. Even when I'm writing, I can hear music in the background." 

Unlike her colleagues, Polish author Sabina Jakubowska is not a journalist, but a history teacher and archaeologist. Writing is her hobby. She made her debut with a book from the young adult category and is currently presenting her new book Akuszerki, which she wrote based on the diary entries of her great-grandmother who worked as a midwife in Krakow. 

"I wanted to portray a strong female character, to create a heroine who is courageous. My great-grandmother's diaries provided inspiration and a glimpse into midwifery in the 19th century and the prejudices and knowledge at that time," Sabina Jakubowska described the creation of her book, for which she was also nominated for the EU Prize for Literature. 

Marit Kapla found her inspiration for her book Kärlek på svenska in TV interviews. "I worked with a documentarist who asked the Swedes about love in his film. The Swedes rarely talk about love, they are not that open, but he managed to get them to talk about it. I thought that I could write a book based on these interviews and he agreed. All respondents also agreed. I wrote the interviews exactly as they came out, I didn't add a single word, and that's what I think makes them special." 

Ondřej Štindl started writing his book Tolik popela during the covid pandemic and he admitted that it was that time that left its mark on his story. "It is about a man who has a strong end of life experience. It makes him look at his existence so far and try to find some meaning in it," he briefly described the plot. 

During the debate about the books of all three authors, it became clear that they have one fundamental theme in common and that is love, although each time in a different form, but comprehensible to all readers regardless of their nationality. It is a universal "worldwide" theme. "Is it brave to talk about love? I don't know if it's brave, but it's not easy," said Ondřej Štindl. All three authors read an excerpt from their books, a translation of which was also available to the visitors, and judging by the positive response, it really did not matter whether the excerpt was written by a Swede, a Pole or a Czech. 

The texts thus crossed all boundaries, to which the organizers of Book World Prague wanted to draw attention under the theme Authors Without Borders. DOMENICO LA MAGNA, representing the Federation of European Publishers, added that the excerpts from the books of the present authors will also be published in an anthology which is currently being prepared and which will present all this year's nominees for the EU Prize for Literature.