Jan Novák (b. 1953), novelist, dramatist, scriptwriter, translator. He emigrated in 1969 and now lives in Prague, though he often returns to America. His books have been translated into several languages. He is the recipient of major literary prizes including the Magnesia Litera for a book of the year (2004) and the Josef Škvorecký Award (2007), as well as the Carl Sandburg Award for Chicago authors, and the Friends of Literature Award.
Jaromír 99 (b. 1963), singer, songwriter, visual artist. Along with the writer Jaroslav Rudiš, Jaromír 99 is the author of the comic book trilogy Alois Nebel which was made into a successful movie in 2011 and received the award for the best animated feature film from the European Film Academy in 2012. His comic book adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novel The Castle was nominated for the Will Eisner Award 2014 at San Diego’s Comic-Con International.
March 2016, 208 pages
Available material: English translation, German translation
Foreign editions: Germany (Voland & Quist), France (Des ronds dans l’O), Spain (Aloha editorial), Bulgaria (Janet 45 Publishing)
The expressiveness of the sharply chiselled faces and tense muscles captures the pain and effort which sport and life require.
A graphic novel about the life of one of the most famous Czech athletes, Emil Zátopek – considered by many to be the greatest runner of all time. Zátopek used to say that the threshold of pain and suffering is what separates the boys from the men. Pushing the limits of the body is what made him a phenomenal runner and one of the most famous athletes. When he won the 10km race at the 1948 Olympic Games in London and finished second on the 5km track, he didn’t consider it a great achievement. At the next Olympics in Helsinki he won three gold medals and became a legend, but he also achieved a more important victory – he stood up to the Communist regime by insisting that his colleague, Stanislav Jungwirth, who was originally banned from travelling to Helsinki for political reasons, be allowed to compete. This graphic novel written by Jan Novák and illustrated by Jaromír 99 looks at Zátopek’s greatest achievements as well as his relationship with the love of his life, Dana Zátopková. The three-colour concept reflects the printing technique used for posters and matches labels at the time.
“The comic portrays Zátopek as a hero and a role model and also hints at his weaknesses. A man who is successful due to his will but is simultaneously walking a tightrope above an abyss; his Czech cunning helps him keep his balance.”
“Zátopek is one of this year’s best comics.”