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Americans in Prague:
the Story of Alan Levy

Notes and Topics

News Update: Alan Levy has passed away (April 2, 2004). The Prague Post has covered Alan's life and passing in the following article "A Life in Letters" by Mark Nessmith. My own remarks of appreciation follow.

Thank you Alan, for talking to me on Charles Bridge that day back in 1992 and introducing me to your world, your writing, and offering to make me the subject of a Prague Profile. All of us were struggling in those years to do good works in a struggling society and the Profiles helped bring much needed recognition to the many projects and people behind them.

Alan, may you find in heaven that which Prague offered you on Earth .


Images of Alan Levy

Alan Levy at the Prague Post, in 1994

Alan Levy when I first met him on the Charles Bridge, Prague in 1992

Interview with Alan Levy

Alan Levy told CA: "After 1989's 'Velvet Revolution' lifted the Iron Curtain from what was then still Czechoslovakia, I hurried back as soon as I could to the land from which my family and I were expelled and deported in 1971 and where I had been given a 5,615-year jail sentence (fortunately, in absentia) for sins of truthtelling in my book Rowboat to Prague (now So Many Heroes). Thanks to a 1975 Czech translation published by Josef and Zdena Skvorecky's emigre house, 68 Publishers Toronto (every copy smuggled in was copied and read by an average of 880 persons), my book had the status of a 'samizdat classic,' and I could have lived happily ever after as a respected monument covering the country for the International Herald Tribune.

"In the summer of 1991, two young Americans--Lisa Frankenberg and Kent Hawryluk, both born in the watershed year of 1968--approached me about founding an English-language weekly newspaper and, at age fifty-nine and a half and after thirty-one years of freelancing, I underwent the best midlife career change I know: moving to the other end of the desk as editor-in-chief of the Prague Post and writing a weekly 'Prague Profile' column (and lately, a monthly travel column). It turned out to be the job for which I had been rehearsing all my life.

"I only wish any of my eighteen books would enjoy the instant success experienced when the first issue of the Prague Post hit the streets of the capital on October 1, 1991: the seven thousand copies we printed of our twelve-page broadsheet were sold out in three hours; in two years, we more than doubled our circulation and number of pages. And several phrases from my first 'Prague Profile' column (subject: 'Us')--which began, 'We are living in the Left Bank of the Nineties'--have endured: Prague still is 'Second Chance City' (not just for me, but for thousands of young Americans flocking here) if no longer 'the kindler, gentler place that George Bush promised America in 1988.' And 'the world we live in and the world around us' became the motto of the Prague Post.

"My 463-page valentine to nearly twenty years as an American Jew living in Vienna, The Wiesenthal File, was finally published (in England) in the summer of 1993, when I also became a grandfather for the first time. As I told my daughter Monica: 'Your baby took just nine months to be born. Mine took nine years.'"

provided under copyright by Gale Research, see Barnes and Noble page with this interview

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