My Seven Lives

Agneša Kalinová in conversation with Jana Juráňová

This book-length interview with a famous personality of the magazine Kulturny zivot and the Slovak service of Radio Free Europe - journalist, editor, translator, film critic and political columnist - is the first in a new series of interviews from the Bratislava publisher ASPEKT, in which she talks to Jana Juráňová, herself a distinguished writer, editor and translator.
Agneša Kalinová will introduce her „seven lives“, which have taken place in a number of cities and countries, against the backdrop of turbulent times and changing regimes. Her book offers fascinating testimony about private and public life in Czechoslovakia between the wars, under fascism and communism, in a convent and in prison, during the Prague spring and under „normalisation“, and finally in exile.

They threw me into a cell, where apart from me there was one other woman, not much older, quite nice, normal, civilised. She said she was a teacher, that they had concocted some charge against her and that she was due to be released soon. The very next day I was taken to an office on the ground floor for questioning. About four people took turns to interrogate me. They started accusing me of all sorts of things. [...] For the first few days I was interrogated by the same three or four, incredibly stupid and furious secret policemen. They kept asking me over and over again whether I was the one who had written my husband’s book of jokes, and if I had translated it. They kept getting everything wrong. They claimed Laco had written my articles for Kultúrny život. They had no idea what an original text was and what was a translation, or what it means to edit or to be responsible for a text. They kept trying to prove I had done something, to accuse me of something and I just could not understand what crime I was supposed to have committed. Some of our friends, who had also been brought in for questioning, told me later that as they passed by they could hear me screaming at the men behind the locked door. I find stupidity incredibly irritating; it drives me up the wall.