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Jaroslav Kalfař

Jaroslav Kalfař is a writer born in Prague who currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. He immigrated to the United States at the age of fifteen and learned the English language through novels and cartoons.

He has earned the Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the New York University.

His debut novel, Spaceman of Bohemia, was written in English and published in the U. S. in March 2017. Spaceman is set to be published in 11 countries, and has recently been longlisted for The Center for Fiction´s First Novel Prize.

Spaceman of Bohemia was translated into Czech by Veronika Volhejnová as Kosmonaut z Čech and published by Plus in 2017.

Jaroslav says about his work: "I had to write Spaceman of Bohemia because of two reasons: because of my fascination with solitude. I wanted to write a story about the most lonely person in the world and find out if there is a hope for such a man to come back. At the same time, I wanted to write a book that would once again introduce our country to the world audience and was interested not only in the Czech past and the present, but also the possibilities for our future.”

Jaroslav Kalfař has written a short story collection, titled Don´t See, Don´t Speak, as part of his thesis work at University of Central Florida. His short stories have also been published in various print and online literary journals and anthologies. His primary writing focus is on fiction, although he also writes personal essays and screenplays.

During his residency programme stay in Prague, he will be finishing up his second novel, which is partly about the current political climates of the Czech Republic and United States. And also he will be starting work on his third book, a fictionalized memoir which partly takes place in Prague of 1989 – 2003 and the Prague of 2017. Jaroslav Kalfař describes: „The residency will be particularly crucial for the memoir, as I want Prague to feel like a protagonist in the book.“

Jaroslav Kalfař seeks to write his second novel in the spirit of his heritage, the writers of Eastern and Central Europe. He is imagining what it might be like if Bulgakov could be alive to write about startup companies, or if Bohumil Hrabal lived in the times of Brexit and Donald Trump. He wants for this novel to be political, uncompromising, human, and, the most importantly, funny. This is the Czech literary tradition established by the classics – the belief that darkness and great adversity should always be faced with defiant laughter.

Jaroslav Kalfař was born in Prague and left the city of his childhood at the age of 15. Though he is now an American citizen and writes in English, he has never given up his heritage, and one of his greatest goals is to write about the Czech Republic as it is now, portraying the conflicts and the people of the country in the 21st century.

He is glad to spend a significant amount of time in Prague in 2018, as his next novel partially takes place in the city. His residency isn´t meant only for the research of the locale, but to inspire. Jaroslav says: “Whenever I return to Prague, I can feel my old home communicating with me, pushing the boundaries of memory. The relationship of longing and rediscovery I have with the city is often the fuel for my writing.”

National Endowment of the Arts, an independent agency of the United States federal government that offers support and funding for projects exhibiting artistic excellence, has awarded Jaroslav Kalfař this year a National Heritage Fellowship in the field of literature. As part of a Prague residency, you can also meet Jaroslav Kalfař personally during the World Book festival (Svět knihy) in May or at the Czech-German Book Festival in Bremen, Germany.

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