Enter the gas-lit streets of post-war Prague, the steelworks run by singed men, the covered market that smells of new-born babes, the cacophonous open-air dance hall. Mr Kafka is avoiding his landlady’s blueberry wine breath, a stonemason witnesses the destruction of a monument to Stalin he risked his life to build, and factory men strain to catch a glimpse of a beautiful bathing murderess. In these newly discovered stories, Hrabal captures men and women in an eerily beautiful nightmare and their spirit in all its misery and splendour.
Hrabal’s magical stories are comic and human... They inhabit a utopian province, the realm of laughter and tears... A great writer
Hrabal bounces and floats. His mode is a sort of dancing realism, somewhere between fairytale and satire. He is a most sophisticated novelist, with a gusting humour and a hushed tenderness of detail. We should read him
The discovery of Hrabal's style is very simple. It makes pleasure a principle... Each of Hrabal's novels describes a spiral, a constant intricate movement between pleasure and fear and guilt and delight: they describe the difficult effort to be a hedonist in a world where pleasure has disappeare
One of the most authentic incarnations of magical Prague, an incredible union of earthy humor and baroque imagination
Written 50 years ago, in a country whose system of government is utterly alien to our lived experience, these stories are still laugh-aloud funny on pretty much every page