Author of the Month – Milan Kundera
“Kundera is the saddest, funniest, and most lovable of authors” -The Times
For someone who lived through political turmoil and exile from his home country, Milan Kundera is admirably fixated on the importance of humor in life. In fact, his first book— aptly titled The Joke— was entirely based around the dangers of living in a humorless world. Following the release of The Joke, Kundera became a prominent leader in the reform movement that led to the Prague Spring in the Czech Republic, his birthplace.
However, soon after this period of literary freedom came his exile as a result of communism— Kundera’s books were removed from bookshelves across the country and he was no longer allowed to publish his work in the Czech Republic. He was forced by circumstance to leave the country to go live and work in France, where he became a naturalized citizen in 1981 while working at a university in Paris.
His next books were published in the United States, and soon came his most famous novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. This book is an exploration of existential problems everybody faces at one point or another— questions of love, death, life after death, and more.
Along with his works of fiction, Kundera also dabbled in nonfiction writing. One such book, The Art of the Novel, explains to readers how he perceives the European novel, with one line calling it “an art born of the laughter of God.”
His most recent novel, The Festival Of Insignificance, published in 2013, gives us his first book in 13 years. Kundera, an author who prefers to remain apolitical in the public eye and claims to not be a political writer, is still regarded as such by many. But reading The Festival Of Insignificance is reading the work of a writer born of political turmoil without the usual backdrop of political turmoil.
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