Daniel Hevier was born in Bratislava, in the former Czechoslovakia, in 1955, and is considered one of the most popular children’s book authors in Slovakia. He studied Slovakian Studies and Aesthetics at the Komenský University in Bratislava. Before founding his own publishing house HEVI in 1992, he worked as an editor for radio, and from 1989 to 1992 as the chief editor for the children’s book publisher Mladé letá, and also as a freelance writer. Today Hevier is known as poet, short-story writer, songwriter, illustrator, publisher, playwright and screenwriter, and, as such, one of the most versatile writers in Slovakia. With his volumes of poetry from the 1970’s and 1980’s (among them ‘Motýlí kolotoč?’, 1974; (Engl: The Butterfly Carousel); ‘Nonstop’, 1981; ‘Electrónkový klaun’, 1983; (Engl: The Electronic Clown)), he invests Slovakian poetry with a spirit of lightness, rich metaphor and great humour.
In addition to his volumes of poetry for adults, Hevier writes equally successful and original poetry and short prose for children. One finds similar traits in his books for children as in his early works for adults: the playful lyric, a masterful handling of word sounds, restrained humour, a childlike enthusiasm for games, and terse expression. With ‘Hovorníček?’ (1992; Engl: The Speaking Book) he creates a book of rhymes for children of three years and up – an inspired source for a phonetic and semantic acquisition of language.
Hevier’s books often take place in the real world of children, yet at the same time are modelled on a boundless fantasy closer to science fiction. ‘Krajina AGORD’ (2001; Engl: The Land of GURD), which was awarded the IBBY Certificate of Honour, is a surreal fairytale in which Hevier gently introduces his young readers to the subject of drugs. The young Lucia is bored and all too readily accepts an invitation from some talking trees, who invite her to travel through space and time to the distant land of Gurd (‘drug’ spelt backwards) – yet without ever leaving behind real place or time. After some adventurous encounters with singing stones and other dazzling figures, she discovers, on the back of a medal, a sad youth who is slave to Gurd’s magic flowers. She leaves the ambivalent fantasy world behind, but not without first conquering Evil.
Hevier was included in the IBBY Honour List for his collection of short stories ‘Kam chodia na zimu zmrzlinàri’ (1986; Engl: What Does the Iceman Do in Winter?), which has been translated into various languages. He was awarded the Triple Rose for his literary oeuvre for children.
© international literature festival berlin