Annette Kobak is a writer and occasional broadcaster whose most recent book Joe’s War: my father decoded was read as Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4. Described as a ‘super-eclectic mix of memoir, biography, history and travelogue’, and much praised in the UK and USA, the book tracks her young Czechoslovak father’s journey out of war-torn Europe in 1940 and her unravelling of his surprising history. The parallel journey she made for Joe’s War, with its formal advantage of creating conversation between past and present, has spurred her to make another over-ambitious journey for her current book on Mme de Staël.
Annette’s biography of the traveller Isabelle Eberhardt Isabelle, which Bill Bryson called ‘A wonderful book — instantly absorbing and beautifully written’, is now a Virago Classic and was made into a film for the BBC2 series Great Journeys. She has also translated Isabelle’s only novel Vagabond from the French.
Annette devised and presented the BBC Radio 4 series The Art of Travel, 36 intimate interviews with now-iconic travel writers. She is a long-standing reviewer for the New York Times Book Review and the Times Literary Supplement, and a former chair of the Cheltenham Literary Festival. She has received an Arts Council award and a Society of Authors travel award, and is now on the Society of Authors’ broadcasting committee. She has MA degrees from Cambridge in modern languages and the University of East Anglia in creative writing. Recently she has contributed essays to volumes in the UK and USA on life narratives and human rights.