Instead of a mini diary of how the book set in my travel destination impacted the experience of being there, this is a retrospective of books that I read in the years prior to visiting Prague and my perspective on how these influenced my trip.
Prague is a city full of inspiration for many creators. Because of this there are dozens of stories set there, inspired by it, or written by people who come from there. Without even meaning to, you could have read something that draws inspiration from this beautiful and historic city. So here is just a sampling of some of the things I’ve read (in no particular order) that are in some way linked to Prague and the Czech Republic.
- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka | The one most often read by people, it is a short read that reflects more a cultural tone and writing style of the time by Czech authors than a use of setting as the story basically takes place in Samsa’s apartment. Even so, Kafka is a cornerstone of Czech creative culture, with a massive monument right in town made of mirrors (that probably says something, don’t you think?) to show how important he has been. His other works would also be a good read for those wanting a touch of the Czech influence.
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor | A fantastic, paranormal romance of angels, demon creatures, and figuring out who you are with various settings, but the primary being Prague. While the city is not fully integrated into the novel as it is in others, it does play a part with an art school and giant marionette performances making an appearance. In ways it is the art and culture that are most utilized in this book.
- City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte | I can’t remember the last time I read something that so fully utilized a city, almost to the point where it is more a central character than the people. In both reflecting on the past and drawing on characters such as Beethoven and Brahe, and in wandering every inch of the city in the present as our protagonist builds a temporary home, this portrayal of Prague is the fullest possible and more than anything entices the imagination to want to go.
- He, She and It by Marge Piercy | This novel deals with a futuristic aspect of the world where someone tries to create an android with its own will and personality in parallel with the story of the Golem. The Golem is probably the most well known of Prague-based stories, about a rabbi who creates a stone golem to protect the Jewish people in a time of great turmoil. It is the origin of the golem and if you haven’t at least read that one tale you really should. Utilizing it in this novel not only amplifies the primary android story but also takes you on a journey through the old city of Prague.
As said, I am commenting in retrospect, so in some cases my memory could be less than accurate. I am however commenting on the remaining impact left by the stories before heading to Prague, or perhaps while in Prague, so I think the idea behind the post, the lingering inspiration, is still relevant. These stories and many more highlight the beauty and the history of this wonderful city. And if I were to recommend just one to read for your visit that most highlights the city itself, it would be City of Dark Magic, a weirdly beautiful guide to the city within a fantastic story.
For more information on these reads and others, check out my Goodreads page!