The End of the Word That Hasn’t Happened


Czech readers are very familiar with the author and translator Patrik Ouředník and it came as no surprise that during his visit to the Prague Book World the Lapidarium welcomed a capacity crowd. And there was much in store for the eager audience.

The author lives and works in France and the main reason for his meeting with the Czech readers was to personally introduce his new book The End of the World Might not Have Taken Place and read from it. "What's it about? I can never really tell. I wait for the first reviews to come out and tell me. From these I choose the most interesting sentences and pretend they are mine," he joked. Before reading excerpts from the new book, he and the visitors shortly recalled his very successful work Europeana, which was translated into thirty five languages and made Patrik Ouředník count among the most translated Czech writers. 

"I became a writer by accident and as a translator I am well aware that some of the passages from the book will probably make my translating colleagues slightly dizzy," the author said. Europeana was published in 2001, but its topic is still highly relevant today, which makes it the subject of unfaltering interest. "Truth be told, I wrote that book for myself. I was looking for some publication about the 20th century but whatever I laid my hands on disappointed me. I couldn't get the experience I was looking for. They say that writers write the books they would like to read themselves, and as far as Europeana is concerned, this is one hundred percent true." 

The book entitled The End of the World Might not Have Taken Place was originally written in French and published in 2014, some thirty years after the author first came to France. Why start writing in French, instead of his customary Czech, only now, after such a long time in France? "Every language brings a different style of thinking. Czech is a rich, diverse and down-to-earth language. French is completely different, which means writing in it was also completely different. It was an interesting experience. I'm glad I tried it," he explained. Patrik Ouředník, well known for his translations of Czech literature into French, has now taken on the opposite role, having authored a work of literature that needed to be translated into Czech. The complete translation is not ready yet but some passages have already been finished and Patrik Ouředník read from these. 

It was interesting to observe the visitors, who were so taken in that they were laughing out loud, nodding their heads and expressing all kind of emotions aroused by the author's words. The meeting with Patrik Ouředník was interesting throughout and hardly anyone was leaving disappointed.