A Cheuse Salon @ Czech Embassy

Czech novelist and poet Martin Vopěnka in conversation with Leeya Mehta, interim Director, the Cheuse Center.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM EDT
3900 Spring of Freedom St NW, Washington, DC 20008

A Cheuse Salon @ Czech Embassy

Come join the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center, the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences, and Plamen Press for a Cheuse Salon at the Embassy of the Czech Republic. Our featured author is Czech writer, traveler, publisher, and poet Martin Vopěnka, who will discuss his two latest novels, translated and published in English, The Back of Beyond—Travels with Benjamin, and his science fiction story, My Brother the Messiah. Excerpts from both books will be read, followed by a discussion with the author and a Q & A session for the audience. We will also provide refreshments at the end of the evening.

Martin Vopěnka was born in 1963. He received a degree at the Czech Technical University from the Department of Nuclear Science and Physics. He worked for the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague before launching the publishing company Prah in 1990 in the Czech Republic. His books include Ballad of Descent (Northwestern University Press, 1992),The Fifth Dimension (Barbican Press, 2016), The Back of Beyond—Travels with Benjamin (Plamen Press, 2021), and My Brother the Messiah (Barbican Press, 2021).

The Back of Beyond—Travels with Benjamin

Martin Vopěnka’s novel, The Back of Beyond—Travels with Benjamin, is the story of a middle-aged man, who—despite his professional success and affluence—lacks fulfillment. After the tragic death of his wife, he is left alone with his eight-year-old son and quickly realizes that if he wants to succeed in the role of single parent that has suddenly been thrust upon him, he has to change fundamentally. So, he takes his son and sets out on a journey to what he dubs the Back of Beyond. Without telling anyone of their plans—in fact, without any plans to speak of—father and son travel from city to city, from country to country, assembling a travelogue that includes not only depictions of exotic places and colorful encounters, but also an inner journey, deep into the human experience and the complexities of living in a post-communist world. With its unique blend of sensitive and suggestive language, The Back of Beyond—Travels with Benjamin is a stylistic gem, rendered in seamless translation and appearing here for the first time in English.

Watch the video below to learn more:

My Brother the Messiah

It’s 2103 and the Earth is baking. Scientists attempt to cool down the planet. With the coming of rain, a messiah is born.

Eli is a technophobe haunted by premonitions of what will come. His strange magnetism draws many to his cause. For his brother Marek, Eli has always been a messiah. After his short and powerful life, Eli's most haunting prediction comes to pass: children stop being born.

Thirty-five years later, only the followers of Eli bear children. Marek leads his commune under the glare of the entire world, and recounts Eli’s story to his lover, Natalia. When she is snatched from him, Marek suspects both the followers and outside forces are to blame. Lessons from Marek’s past and revelations from his present inspire one final journey in his brother’s footsteps.

My Brother the Messiah explores spirituality in the twilight of human civilization and presents a dark, vivid future of our world.

For a review in the Times click here.

For a review in Morning Star click here.

Martin Vopěnka is also known for his young adult novels. His novel, Sleeping City, was made into a full-length feature film that is available in the US on Amazon Prime video.


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