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Soviet invasion of Hungary

Tomas Venclova


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New books were published on a Thursday in Czechoslovakia

Jan Klein - Scientist

But, of course you have to understand the situation in Czechoslovakia that I knew. A lot of books were published and the system was such that the new books appeared on a certain day and that was always on Thursday, I remember, and so on Thursday if you wanted a new book and it was something worthwhile, you better go to the bookstore and stand in the line to get the book because they were publishing a lot of books but they were books that nobody wanted to read like the classics in Marxism, Leninism, the collected works of Stalin and the collected works of Lenin and then the Czech classics like the collected works of Hašek. It was... those were okay but people didn't want to buy these kind of books, they wanted The Old Man and the Sea, which was talked about but we could not read it before because you could not get it in English, of course.  And many other of the books that were bestsellers were translations from English or other languages. And so people really stood lines on Thursday to get the book and often before you got to the cashier or into the store, the book was already sold out because also the booksellers put many copies under the... they were trading them, you know, for other things that were not easily available.

So anyway, that explains how in a few days a book, even a scientific book or popular books, can be... can disappear... be sold out. So then I wrote a book on H2, which again I summarised because I had to learn everything about H2 and the next one was on immunology and so on. So every time I wrote a book it really was because I was getting into a new field... new area, and I wanted to learn everything that there was and so it came natural that I would write a book about it.

Oliver Sacks - Scientist
Philip Roth - Writer
Donald Hall - Poet