Culture shorts

Lower VAT on books possible from 2008

CULTURE Minister Marek Maďarič has hinted that the value-added tax (VAT) on books may be lowered as early as 2008. At the opening of the Bibliotéka book fair in November, Minister Maďarič said: "As long as the economy continues developing well, I consider it entirely possible for the year 2008".

"Of course, I'm unable to say right now whether the VAT will be decreased for all books or whether the cut will apply only to scientific and artistic books and textbooks," he added for the TASR news wire.

Originally, the government considered introducing a reduced VAT on books starting in 2007, but the state budget didn't allow for it. The Robert Fico cabinet has cut VAT on medicines and medical aids, effective January 1, 2007. VAT on all other products remains flat at 19 percent.

High Tatras valley and peak renamed

THE GEODESY, Cartography and Cadastre Authority of the Slovak Republic (ÚGKK) has officially changed the names of Český Štít (Czech Peak), Česká Veža (Czech Tower) and České Pleso (Czech Tarn) in the High Tatras, replacing the word Český (Czech) with Ťažký (heavy, difficult). Eva Kalužáková from the ÚGKK told SITA that the peaks' original names were only a corruption of Polish, and the new names return them to their original meaning.

The old names originated from an incorrect translation by a 19th-century German cartographer. Local people from Jurgovo, who used to graze livestock, called the valley "Čynska or Čenska", which in the Spiš dialect means "češka", or "difficult". The incorrect translation resulted in the mistakenly named Česká valley.

Of the renamed objects, Ťažký Peak is the best known. It is familiar in particular for visitors of the Chata pod Rysmi cottage.

Štefánik photos bring in highest bid

CZECH-SLOVAK legendary politician Milan Rastislav Štefánik became the most valuable photographer at the fifth charitable auction on December 2, which raised Sk565,000 for the Foundation for Children of Slovakia. Bidders "fought" the most for photos by Štefánik, pushing up prices for his black-and-white photos Tahiti and Mont-Black from the starting price of Sk1,055 to Sk36,055 and Sk30,055, respectively. A successful bidder gave Sk25,055 for a photo by prominent figure in Slovak photography, Karol Kállay. The Boss of the Roma Apartment Block by Alan Hyža fetched Sk23,055 and the photo by Yuri Dojč without a title finished fifth with a final price of Sk22,055. All 61 photos of renowned Slovak and Czech artists were sold during the traditional event, which took place in the Carlton Hotel for the first time this year.

Viliam Klimáček won novel competition

Viliam Klimáček.
photo: Sme - Miroslava Cibulková

SLOVAK dramatist and writer Viliam Klimáček has won the first year of the literary Román (Fiction) 2006 competition, sponsored by Slovak Telekom. He received an Sk200,000 contract for publishing his novel, Námestie Kozmonautov (Square of the Cosmonauts) as the prize.

Two premiums and Sk100,000 publishing contracts went to Michaela Rosová for her novel Hlava nehlava and Daniel Štefanec for his work, Filipiky (Philippics).

The results of the competition for the best novel, which publisher Koloman Kertész Bagala announced three years ago, were announced on December 1.

Authors submitted a total of 97 novels, but since not all met the terms of the competition, the organizer gave the 25-member international jury only 89 works.

"I cannot resist noting that not every published book is lucky enough to have 25 readers," said jury head Valér Mikula. The jury also featured prominent Slovak writers Tomáš Janovic, Kornel Foldvári, Vladimír Balla, Silvester Lavrík, Karol D. Horváth, literary critic Alexander Halvoník, Czech writer Michal Viewegh and others.

"We as jurors of the competition did not search for a man, but for real art. The rules of the competition removed the above temptation from us when we did not know the identity of the authors of the works we assessed, as the works bore only numbers. However, it has always been more complicated with searching for real art," read a letter by Valér Mikula, who was in Paris during the ceremonial presentation of awards.

The results of the competition surprised some jurors, the Sme daily wrote. Some of them viewed the finalists as dull, without invention, conformist or obsolete in style. In contrast, others found in them lively, well-thought out pieces of humour, absurdity, thoughtfulness, or nostalgia.

Writer Karol Horváth has uncovered some "jewels" among the works which he would like to include in his private collection: "It fascinates me that people, instead of attending a football match or going to the pub, sit down and write hundreds of pages of sentences, of which not one is comprehensible and all of which contain unbelievable grammatical mistakes. This is amazing!"

Compiled by Jana Liptáková

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