Stories for children by Plastic People’s Vratislav Brabenec appear in English


Vratislav Brabenec is a member of the band The Plastic People of the Universe, a thorn in the side of Czechoslovakia’s communist regime. But Mr Brabenec is also the author of a book of stories for children, called The Centre of the World is Everywhere, which is now also available in an English translation.

Vratislav Brabenec launched a translation of his book Střed světa je všude at the café of Prague’s Švandovo Theatre on Thursday. Entitled The Centre of the World is Everywhere in English, it is a collection of stories for children.

“The original idea was to write something like fairy tales. But in the end, the result is little different – they aren’t exactly fairytales; they are more like short stories. Most of them are based on my life, the experiences I had with animals and things like that. It’s based on my childhood in former Czechoslovakia, and after that also on some experiences with animals we had in Canada.”

Vratislav Brabenec first made up the stories for his daughter, Nicola, who herself later translated the book into English. Some listeners might remember her name, as she worked for Radio Prague for a time before moving back to Canada.

“It could also be translated as you can be happy everywhere you are, if you care about your life, if you care about the nature and if you are able to see all the miracles in the world.”

You are best known as a member of the band, the Plastic People of the Universe. Is there anything that connects the book with your work for the band?

“No, there isn’t. But maybe this farm outside Prague where we had our rehearsals in the 1970s, and I lived there back then for a while. So there’s one story that’s related to that, and it’s a bit political.”

The Centre of the World is Everywhere was illustrated by Matěj Forman, a son of the film director, Miloš. The book’s publisher, Iva Pecháčková, says the illustrations are another reason she believes foreigners will be interested in its English version.

“I don’t think it’s only for children. It’s also for adults who are learning Czech or English. Also, visitors to Prague buy these books because the first hundred copies are signed by the authors, including illustrators. This book by Vratislav Brabenec was illustrated by Matěj Forman, a well-known actor, stage designer and comedian.”

Though the book has just been launched, Vratislav Brabenec has already presented it to one well-known foreigner.

“In December, I went to London to promote our concert, and I also visited Tom Stoppard and I gave him this book as a present. I told him, ‘I’m sorry, you’re a not a child but maybe you’ll enjoy it anyway’.”