Lenka Glassner a Czech author of a wonderful book CZECHING IN – ADVENTURES BEYOND PRAGUE (rated 4.9 on Amazon!) just generously donated her signed copy of her book to our this year’s Christmas party raffle!
Get your tickets to our Christmas party: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/czech-school-of-california-vanocni-party-tickets-39880329138
We asked Lenka couple questions, so we can learn more about her wonderful book…
Lenka Glassner was born in 1959 in Czechoslovakia. When she was
nineteen, she emigrated to the US. Today Lenka’s two American-
born children are on their own, and she lives with her husband Larry,
the favorite character from her new humorous book CZECHING IN –
ADVENTURES BEYOND PRAGUE, in Clayton, CA.
What is your book about? Why should I read it?
CZECHING IN is about going back home after being away for a really long
time. It’s about struggles and triumphs, but most importantly it’s about
belonging. Even though the book covers Czech history from the Celts to
now and is especially interesting to those with ties to the Czech Republic, I
wrote it for all who live in countries other than their own. It is a universal
In the book, I’m rediscovering the country of my origin. I set out to find why
my father stood taller when he said – I’m Czechoslovakian, and I ended up
answering the timeless emigrant question – where is my real home.
How did you come up with the idea of writing this particular book? How
did it all start?
That I can tell you exactly. My son was about twelve when out of the blue
he said: “I think Communism was a good thing; there were no rich and
poor. Everyone owned everything.” His statement hit me like a ton of
bricks and I knew at that moment that I needed to write this book. Despite
the heavy topic of Czech history, it would have to be a humorous book so
my children would actually read it. You see, soon after I came to America
my Czech husband left and I became a single mom, busy supporting my
little family, trying hard to blend into the new culture. Somewhere during
those, challenging years we stopped speaking Czech at home. But my
son’s frightening statement woke me up and set me on a mission. I
became determined to fix what I had neglected. I needed to tell my kids
about their ancestors’ struggles in a way that would be easy and
entertaining. I needed to pass on their heritage. Writing this particular book
was the answer.
What was your favorite thing about working on the book?
I was lucky. Both of my parents are still alive and I got to ask them
questions that otherwise I would never think of asking. What learned from
history books became personal through their experiences. Like when my
dad as a young soldier in 1953 was assigned to guard bags of worthless
new money at the post office. They made him hold an empty rifle while
the radio broadcast the communist president’s lies about the stable
Czechoslovakian currency. The next day the whole nation woke up into a
And what was the hardest part?
You mean besides the past tenses and articles? English is my second
language and I still wrestle with grammar. I got help in my two writers
groups. My English teachers’ group helped me with the grammar and my
published authors’ group boosted my creativity. At the end, I hired a
Another hard part was choosing which stories I would cut out from my
research. There was so much good material. The Czech Republic is a
place of wonderful stories.
What is your favorite part of the book?
It would have to be one of the scenes when visiting around the kitchen
table with my Czech family, or chatting with strangers on the train. Or the
part when Larry and I ended up in a seemingly boring little village, quickly
discovering how wrong our first impression was, and making a friend on
top of it. Or the wine tasting in Southern Moravia, or the border crossing
museum in Valtice that triggered me to tell my own immigrant story. I
traveled the Czech Republic to learn about my country and I ended up
learning about myself. For decades I wrestled with an answer to the
universal emigrant dilemma. Where is my home? Where do I belong? Am I
Czech or am I American? By zig-zagging the Czech Republic and writing
this book, I figured it out. That was important for me.
Who is your favorite Czech author? What is your favorite Czech book?
Every time I read a book from a great Czech author like Ivan Klima whose
books were translated into over thirty languages, or Michal Viewegh, I
consider myself tremendously lucky to read such literary masterpieces in
the original. But truth to be told, in the past four years while working on my
book, my focus was on travel writing. I fell in love with Bill Bryson, my
travel writing guru, and John Steinbeck’s classic Travels with Charlie.
Karel Capek wrote my favorite travel essays English letters (Anglicke
listy). Even though he wrote it in 1923, his sharp eye and humor made his
work timeless, perhaps even more fascinating to today’s reader. I read bits
and pieces every so often. They never fail to bring me amusement and
What was the response to CZECHING IN so far?
It’s been heartwarming. I receive emails from readers almost daily. I
especially love comments of the fourth, fifth, or sixth generation of Czech
descendants. I love how proud they are of their Czech ancestry, how eager
they are to share their great-grandparents’ stories. Even in the
“newcomers” the book triggers some almost forgotten memories. My
hope is that my book would be a reminder of the importance of passing on
the family stories and our countries’ history to our children. To keep a
healthy sense of who we are, we need to know about our Czech culture
and about our ancestors’ struggles.
Thank you, Lenka, for your time and we wish you good luck with your book, you are an inspiration!