A classic of postwar literature, a small masterpiece of humour, humanity and heroism from one of the best Czech writers
Bohumil Hrabal (Author) Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997) was born and raised in Brno in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After working as a railway labourer, insurance agent, travelling salesman, manual labourer, paper-packer and stagehand, he published a collection of poetry that was quickly withdrawn by the communist regime. He went on to become one of the most important and most admired Czech writers of the 20th century; his best-known books include I Served the King of England, Closely Watched Trains (made into an Academy Award-winning film directed by Jiri Menzel) and Too Loud a Solitude. He fell to his death from the fifth floor of a Prague hospital, apparently trying to feed the pigeons.
Hrabal bounces and floats. His mode is a sort of dancing realism, somewhere between fairy tale and satire. He is a most sophisticated novelist, with a gusting humour and a hushed tenderness of detail. We should read him -- Julian Barnes Hrabal, to my mind, is one of the greatest European prose writers -- Philip Roth One of the most authentic incarnations of magical Prague; an incredible union of earthy humour and baroque imagination... What is unique about Hrabal is his capacity for joy -- Milan Kundera Hrabal's comedy is completely paradoxical. Holding in balance limitless desire and limited satisfaction, it is both rebellious and fatalistic, restless and wise -- James Wood * London Review of Books * A poignant, humorous tale * New York Times Book Review *