Sep 12, 2022
Michael Žantovský is a
Czech diplomat, author and translator. He is a former Czech
Ambassador to the United Kingdom, as well as to Israel and the
United States. He has translated more than fifty works of fiction,
drama and poetry, mostly by contemporary American and British
writers including James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller, E.L.
Doctorow, and Tom Stoppard. Non-fiction translations include works
by Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright. He is currently the
Executive Director of the Václav Havel Library.
We met in his office at the Library in
Prague to talk about, among other things, his book Havel: A
Life, published in 2014; about writing the biography of a
close friend; about dealing with death, grief and indebtedness;
about the clinical attitude; writing as a process of selection;
hagiography; coming across honestly; guilt about wealth;
responsibility and trust; Václav Havel's play sticking our noses
into misery; hope and hopelessness; outsiders; Woody Allen; and the
inner need to say something.