Culture gumbo

The Prague Post

Multicultural Center Prague brings a new element to BookWorld this year, partnering with the literary fair on some cross-cultural events. “Literature isn’t our main theme, but we thought it would be interesting to introduce immigrant writers,” says Petr Lobotka, program manager for the organization.

All four of the events — a public discussion, two readings and a film screening — will be at least partly in English. The public discussion, titled “European Literature with non-European Roots,” will look at current issues surrounding multiculturalism and migration in Europe, like the recent “cartoon wars.” New European authors — that is, first- or second-generation immigrants — will share their views, along with journalists and academics. “The discussion won’t just be about literature,” promises Lobotka.

This, he adds, is the type of programming his organization likes to focus on. “Our goal is to show the Czech public that immigrants bring something to their new country,” he says. “[We hope] to improve the perception of migration, and show that people want to live here and contribute to society.”

The movie, King Hussain of Pakistan — Queen Asia of Norway, is Norwegian and won an Iris award in the multicultural section of Prix Europe last year. It tells the story of a Pakistani man who, after living with his family for 30 years in Norway, wants to return home. “It’s a brilliant film,” says Lobotka. “The director was a friend [of the family in the film], so it made for some interesting conversations.”

The readings offer another multicultural stew. On Friday afternoon, four writers from places like Pakistan and Chile who emigrated to Scandinavian countries will read from their work. That evening at The Globe, noted Czech author Benjamin Kuras is doing a reading and discussion.

These events all fit into the larger mission of Multicultural Center Prague, which holds workshops for students and teachers throughout the year, preaching the benefits of multiculturalism.

“Living with other cultures is good,” says Lobotka. “If you educate people and introduce them, you can avoid many problems. People have the same problems and behŽave the same everywhere.”