When the novel The Glass Room by the British writer Simon Mawer was published in 2009 it was an instant hit, and it was no surprise when it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The book was widely discussed in the Czech Republic as it revolves around the story of one this country’s most remarkable twentieth century buildings, the Villa Tugendhat in Brno. This was not Simon Mawer’s first novel set in the city. Over a decade earlier he wrote Mendel’s Dwarf, which took its inspiration from Gregor Mendel, one of the fathers of genetics and the abbot of a Brno monastery in the 19th century. And now Simon Mawer has done it again. His latest book is called Prague Spring, and this time the setting is not Brno but Prague, in the days just before and after the Soviet-led invasion in August 1968. He has just been in Prague to launch the book’s Czech translation, and David Vaughan took the opportunity to talk to him. Their conversation begins with a short extract from the book.

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