Of novels and dystopia
Many will have felt tempted to return to Franz Kafka’s dystopian literary classic The Trial following the election of Donald Trump as US president, but few know that Kafka’s first novel was set in New York City. Though left unfinished, Amerika is a fable about the fantasy of Western modernity, written without its author having ever left Prague.
The building in which Kafka was born, of which only the original entrance portal still stands, can be visited in the Old Town. It is necessary to cross the Vltava River to visit the Kafka Museum and its collection of artworks and artefacts celebrating, notably, the writer’s twisted vision of the city’s topography.
In 2014, Prague was designated the world’s ninth City of Literature by Unesco. The title marks cities with an exceptional richness of literary organisations and currently supports a collaborative platform for authors, editors and critics, but also unions, at the Municipal Library of Prague.
Enjoy a moment of existential reflection at Café Slavia, a favourite meeting place for turn-of-the-20th-century intellectuals such as Rainer Maria Rilke, the German-language poet.
This coffee house, one of the oldest in the city, can still be visited today opposite the National Theatre.
Stroll ten minutes to the east and visit the Museum of Communism, which chronicles the postwar regime’s imposition of censorship on Czech writers, deterring novelists such as Milan Kundera, who went into exile in France, where he still lives.
International writers of today find inspiration in the city’s architectural beauty and literary history. Helen Oyeyemi, the British-Nigerian novelist, is one of them. She now divides her time between London and Prague. What is Not Yours Is Not Yours, her latest short-story collection, was one of the FT’s best fiction books of 2016. It takes the reader on fictional ramblings across the continent, from Paris to Prague.
Next door to Kafka’s birthplace, memorial statue and the municipal library, this duplex apartment has two terraces overlooking the Old Town and Prague Castle.
The apartment occupies an area of 2,600 sq ft over the sixth and seventh floors of a late 19th-century building.
Available through Sotheby’s International Realty, $1.48m
Ronalda Reagana, Bubeneč
This penthouse in the leafy residential area of Prague 6 is a 30-minute stroll from the Kafka Museum.
Designed by John Eisler, the renowned Czech-British architect, this 311 sq m apartment includes a patio with water features on the upper level, adjoining the entrance and reception hall.
Available through Homeland Real Estate, €2,3m
Photographs: Hemis/Alamy; Radim Beznoska/Alamy; Agencja Fotograficzna Caro/Alamy; CTK/Alamy; luciopix/Alamy; John Kellerman/Alamy; David Noton Photography/Alamy
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