Simon will be discussing his new novel, Prague Spring.(pub. July 2018), set in the summer of 1968, the year of love and hate, of Prague Spring and Cold War winter. Two English students, Ellie and James, set off to hitch-hike across Europe. In Czechoslovakia, Alexander Dubcek’s “socialism with a human face” is smiling on the world, and Sam Wareham, at the British embassy in Prague, is observing developments in the country with a mixture of diplomatic cynicism and a young man’s passion. In the company of Czech student, he finds a way into the world of Czechoslovak youth, its hopes and its ideas. Yet the wheels of politics are grinding in the background: the Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev, is making demands of Dubcek and the Red Army is massed on the borders. How will the looming disaster affect those fragile lives caught up in the invasion?
Simon Mawer was born in1948 and graduated in Zoology from Brasenose College, Oxford. He published his first novel, Chimera, at the age of forty-one, winning the McKitterick Prize for a first novel by an author over the age of forty. Mendel’s Dwarf was his fifth novel and established him as a writer of note on both sides of the Atlantic, with the New York Times describing it as a “thematically ambitious and witty novel”. The Gospel of Judas and The Fall followed. More recently, he published Swimming to Ithaca, a novel partially inspired by his childhood on the island of Cyprus. His non-fiction works include A Place in Italy (1992) and Gregor Mendel: Planting the Seeds of Genetics, which was published in conjunction with the Field Museum of Chicago as a companion volume to the museum’s exhibition of the same name.
In 2009, Mawer published The Glass Room, a novel about a modernist villa built in a Czech city, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize the same year. His 2012 book The Girl Who Fell From the Sky was received positively on both sides of the Atlantic, described as “a professionally crafted and engaging story” and a “skillfully and intelligently executed thriller”. In 2015 he published Tightrope, a follow-on novel from The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, and winner of the 2016 Walter Scott Prize. Simon now lives primarily in Italy with his wife and two children.
Single ticket for this event £7.50 or a joint ticket for this and later talk by Michael Arditti £14, available to book now and on the door, subject to availability.