Sunday, 5 August 2012

Remembering Hana

Hana Andronikova          Photo from Radio Prague
Elena and I have dedicated our novel Amigas to friend and fellow writer Hana Andronikova. Hana was in Iowa with us in 2007, a beautiful, fiercely intelligent free-spirit from the Czech Republic whose writing was in full flower when she died four years after we met. She and Elena had an especially close kinship.

When Hana found she was ill a few months after Iowa, and decided to go into the Peruvian Amazon to prepare herself for the ordeal ahead, it is typical of Elena that she made the challenging journey across South America to meet and escort Hana into the jungle, to act as translator, and to see her settled, even though Elena hates camping (a point we established early in our friendship).

A talented playwright and short story writer also, Hana is best known for her epic novel, The Sound of the Sundial, set between Zlín in Moravia, and Calcutta. I found an interesting interview with Hana on the Radio Prague website and quote from it here:  "Her last novel, Bottomless Heaven, which last year won the Readers’ Prize in the Magnesia litera awards went in a very different direction. It was a novel that was in many ways autobiographical, telling the very difficult story of a woman’s coming to terms with having cancer and travelling to Latin America, to the Peruvian jungle, to stay with a shaman, and then eventually coming back to Europe to face conventional medical treatment."

Elena visited Hana again last year and spent some hard but precious hours with her friend. Although dying, Hana entirely lacked self-pity, shedding light and love on all who came within her sphere. "By a sad irony, Hana Andronikova died just two days after Václav Havel (in December 2011) and in the whirlwind that followed Havel’s death many Czech papers devoted only a few lines to her life and work. But the Czech literary scene has lost one of its most gifted writers."

Hana was one of our bright stars, as a writer, a friend, and a strong, courageous woman. Her light shines on.

All going well, Amigas will be released tomorrow. In memoria de Hana. 

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