Did you develop an interest in licensing any America beer?
No. As I said, good beer is very important to a Czech.
What are a few of the most recent books you've licensed to translate from English and publish in the Czech language?
In fiction we are going to continue with works by Martin Amis. Now it should be his most recent (2006) book The House of Meetings and his first one, The Rachel Papers.
From non-fiction it should be The Song of Leonard Cohen: Portrait of a Poet, a Friendship and a Film - Including the Unpublished Bob Dylan Diaries by Canadian filmmaker Harry Rasky. And we are preparing a new edition of a successful, popular one thousand page color encyclopedia of films called 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
You've yet to buy any fiction from us.
But we have bought a good many non-fiction titles from you. I would have loved for us to buy your novel The Revised Kama Sutra by Richard Crasta, but you'd already sold it to another Czech publishing house.
I would especially have liked us to get it since I'd have been the one to translate it. It's a fine novel. I'm pleased to say, by the way, that the Czech translation of it is very good.
How would you describe the Czech publishing industry?
I believe that seventeen years after the fall of communism, the Czech publishing industry is now in the standard shape known in the countries that did not have the 'honor' to meet that repulsive social system.
Our print runs are far smaller than they were under the Communists. The Czech Republic now has a market economy which has raised production costs. And, of course, copyrights to books published in Czech from other languages are now purchased rather than stolen.
Our bookstores now even sell pulp fiction. We can publish many books that could not be published before.
Would you tell us about your own company, Volvox Globator?
Volvox Globator was established in 1991 primarily as a fiction publishing house. Since then it has widened its field of interest to many areas of non-fiction, too, particularly history, herbs, music, film or even esoteric books. Its output was more than a hundred titles per year at the end of the 1990s. Now we prepare about forty titles per year. We expect to expand again as we see signs of better conditions for the Czech publishing industry following our joining the European Union in 2004.
In addition to being Rights Director for Volvox, you yourself also translate a number of titles from English into the Czech language?
I've been translating English fiction and poetry since samizdat times in the 1970s and 1980s. It was only after 1989 that I gave up my job as the night watchman and boiler attendant in a vapor stokehole and started to publish my translations officially.
Thank you, Ladislav. Can we buy you a beer?
Am I not a Czech?