I recently translated a novel by the Czech author Hana Hindráková. It’s called Unbreakable (Nezlomný in Czech) and is based upon the life of a street child in Kenya who grew up to become the director of a centre for street children. The press release reads as follows:
CZECH AUTHOR BECOMES KENYAN CELEBRITY
And that happened literally overnight, during the book launch of the English translation of her latest novel Nezlomný – Unbreakable, which is published by Moran Publishers in Kenya.
The book launch took place on 10 September 2019 from 2 pm in the main hall of the Kenyan National Library. Despite the African understanding of time, it really did commence at 2 pm, by which time the hall – which has capacity for 150 people – had filled up with about 400.
Six-year-old Moses, a former street child, started the event with a short prayer. “When Moses prays, God listens,” said Joseph “Njoro” Njoroge, the main hero of this book, and director of the Global Hope Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre for street children. After this, everyone sang the Kenyan national anthem.
After a performance of dance by boys from Joseph’s centre, there were a number of speeches by the book’s “godparents”, including the Kenyan MP Joseph Manje and Dr Adam Piňos. Dr Piňos was deputising for the Czech Ambassador in Kenya, Martin Klepetko, who had been suddenly called to a diplomatic briefing with the Kenyan Minister of Foreign Affairs and was therefore unfortunately unable to take part in the book launch.
“This is an amazing event that has important diplomatic significance,” Dr Piňos said.
During the event, most of the copies that had been made available were bought, and three days afterwards a third of the print-run had been sold. There is a great deal of interest about the book in Kenya, and a second print-run will follow soon. In addition to Kenya, the book is being sold in other East African countries where Moran Publishers operate.
“It’s like a dream,” said the author Hana Hindráková, smiling. I’ve never before given so many interviews on the day of a book launch or sold 500 books or had so many photos taken. She was the principal guest of the live morning show on Metropol TV, and she was also interviewed by the well-known Kenyan television station KTN and by other journalists, of whom there was a large number at the book launch.
“And I hope,” Hana added, “that the book will help to change attitudes towards street children and their general situation. As soon as you manage to imagine what lies behind their stories, you look at them in a completely different way than as little, stinking thieves.” And she explained that she and the book’s translator, Francis K Johnson, had decided to donate their royalties to Joseph’s centre for street children.