Black Czech writer Zmeškal won EU Prize for Literature in 2011

Czech writer Tomáš Zmeškal, who was born as the son of a Congolese father and a Czech mother in Prague, won the European Union Prize for Literature in 2011 for his debut novel “Love Letter in Cuneiform Script” (Milostný Dopis Klínovým Písmem) set in post-war Czechoslovakia through the collapse of communism.
He was one of 12 winners of the prize, which recognizes the best new or emerging authors in the European Union.

Zmeškal’s novel "Životopis černobílého jehněte"  ("The Biography of the Black and White Lamb") of 2009, written long before his debut was published, is the first novel in Czech language dealing with the experience of Africans in the communist countries in Eastern Europe. It is the childhood and youth story of twins, who do not know their ethnically mixed parents and grow in their grandmother’s house. In spite of her attempts to protect them, they suffer from the racism and hostility that surrounds them. Which is all the more absurd since the society, in which they live, officially encourages internationalist attitudes and an understanding among nations.

Tomáš Zmeškal’s novel "Milostný dopis klínovým písmem" was on the shortlist for the Magnesia Litera Award 2009, and received the distinguished Josef Škvorecký Prize. The writer, translator and English teacher lives in Prague.

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