Jan Novák was born in Kolín, Czech Republic, in 1953. In 1969, he left the country with his parents and has been living in Chicago since 1970. He was educated at the University of Chicago (BA and MA in General Humanities). He writes in English and in Czech and also translates in both languages. His books include On the Far Side of the Pond; Grandpa; So Far, So Good; Commies, Crooks, Gypsies, Spooks & Poets; The Grand Life; The Willys Dream Kit; and Striptease Chicago. Among other laudations, he was awarded two Carl Sandburg prizes for the Best Book of the Year by the Chicago Public Library and the Magnesia Litera for the Czech Book of the Year in 2004.
Novák has al so co-authored the autobiography of Miloš Forman, The Turnaround, which was translated into 18 languages. His screenplays include The Wonderful Years That Sucked, which was the Czech Republic’s top box office earner in 1997, and Broken Promise, nominated by Slovakia for the foreign films competition of the Oscars in 2009.
Bratislava’s Astorka Theatre has in its repertory his plays An Ax Murder in St . Petersburg and Tolstoy and Money.
He has translated all of Václav Havel's Vaněk plays, and also translated Office Party, Havel’s first full-length theater piece.
Photo by Adam Novák