Caleb Crain Talks About Necessary Errors, His Debut Novel of Post Revolution Prague

The historic Velvet Revolution in 1989 Czechoslovakia, led by the late dissident playwright, Vaclev Havel, was an incredible victory for humanitarianism and culturalism across the world. Beginning with a group of students, teachers, professors and ordinary Czechs, the 1989 uprising was a beacon for young idealists, peacefully sweeping away one of the most repressive communist regimes in the Soviet Bloc in a matter of days.

Caleb Crain‘s compelling debut novel, Necessary Errors, opens in late 1990 Prague, one year after the revolution in newly democratic Czechoslovakia. The book’s main character, Jacob Putnam is a twenty-something American who missed the Revolution, but is immediately drawn to the country’s dynamic political scene and the young group of new group of expat friends he latches onto in his beautiful adopted city.

Like his protagonist, Crain himself spent time in Prague in the immediate aftermath of the revolution–a time Crain explains in our Bibliostar.TV interview he first thought was “the wrong time.”

“I think, when I myself went to Prague, I had the feeling that I was there at the wrong time, that I had missed the revolution, that it wasn’t a special time to be there. And looking back, I thought, actually, that’s more interesting, being there at the wrong time, in that it’s a motive that’s kind of complicated and messed up and can’t possibly work out.

But of course I’ve talked to people who’ve been to Prague after I was, and they all feel that they were there at the wrong time. And I wonder if that’s a feeling young people always have, that they’ve just shown up and they missed the real event. And that’s not the case–your youth is the main event for you, wherever it is and whenever it is.”

Crain, a respected literary critic himself for publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books and the The New York Times Book Review, now finds himself navigating the other side of the reviewing equation with his his first work of published fiction.

“I like writing, but I’m not at all sure I like having written…so for [my book] to actually be in the world is completely terrifying. I mean, obviously, I hoped for it, but in a way it’s unexpected. So I’m very much adjusting to that.”

That may be true, but Crain’s shimmering debut is winning great praise from his critic compatriots with glowing reviews in major review publications including The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Slate And for readers, Crain has provided a subtle coming-of-age story of the unfolding process of finding one’s freedom and some of the answers to the questions of our youth.

Related Video

Necessary Errors Trailer

Recorded at Book Expo America, New York, 2013.



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