Aleš Machácek was born in 1946 in Prague. After university, he worked as an irrigation engineer. Having been part of the underground distribution of books and periodicals from Western publishers, he was sentenced in 1977 by the Communist government to three and a half years in prison for subversion of the state. In the eighties he worked in various places and in May 1985 emigrated to London, where he helped the Palach Press Agency set up by Jan Kavan, whom he knew from childhood. From 2000 he has lived in Prague and London and in 2001 was given the Gratias Agit in recognition of his activities. He was first published in a collection of texts by political prisoners, Bytem v hruze, in 2002, expanded upon here to include his childhood, the students movement and memories of Russian occupation.
The memoir is interwoven with poems by his partner Jane Kirwan, who has published some of them in the collection The Man Who Sold Mirrors (Rockingham Press, 2004), for which she was awarded an Arts Council Writer’s Award in 2002.
Read a special interview with Aleš Machácek and Jane Kirwan by Pam Johnson here: http://wordsunlimited.typepad.com/words_unlimited/2010/10/jane-kirwan-ales-machacek.html