Following an interview with the magazine “Sedmicka” (“Seven”) — one of many periodicals owned by my publisher, Mlada Fronta — I change into the new suit I had bought expressly for the Big Occasion. Sue and I walk (in Prague, one nearly always walks) to Wenceslas Square and to the Luxor bookstore, where the book will be launched officially, with ceremonies slated to begin at five o’clock. Known as the Palace of Books, the seven-floor store is the largest in the Czech Republic. When we walk in, we are greeted by an announcement of the launch and reading on the PA system. It appears that we’ll have walk-ins, as well as the invited guests in attendance.
After a brief strategy meeting, four of us take our places at the head table. Left to right in the photo: Antonin Koci (MF editor), Irena Zikova (translator and interpreter), I (the author — sorry, I like the sound of that!), and Alexander Turkovic (District Governor-elect of the nation’s Rotary clubs).
Tony Koci gives a brief welcoming speech and, suddenly, the mike is in my hand. In English with Irena translating, I introduce all those in the audience who are “characters” in my book. Then I surprise everyone by reading — in Czech — an episode describing my melodramatic return to Prague after the Velvet Revolution. There is applause and, as I look out over the crowd, some — particularly our friends — seem as emotional as I am. Sasha Turkovic speaks briefly about the meaning of Rotary and makes a connection between my life and Rotary’s motto, “service above self.” A Q&A session follows. Among many other questions, I am asked, perhaps for the tenth time this week, whether I feel more American or Czech. For the tenth time, I give the same answer: “Both, equally.” [The next day, after some introspection, I will modify this answer.]
Finally, the big moment arrives. We break open the champagne and, with Sue joining the celebration, we christen the book. DLOUHA CESTA DOMU has been launched! I stay for a long time to sign books and finally have to be pulled away for yet another interview, this one with Czech Radio Leonardo.
As Sue and I walk away with our good friend, Jitka Thomasova, in search of a pub, I feel overwhelmed. Is this really happening? More than six years of writing and rewriting, Now, I really have a book.