My first foray into the fictional world of Czech author Bohumil Hrabal. A contemporary of fellow Czech author Milan Kundera, Hrabal’s approach is quite different although the satirical elements and surrealist influence are present in Hrabal’s work as much as it’s in Kundera’s. However, the two authors couldn’t be more different stylistically.
Most of the seven stories in this collection revolve around the quirky characters in and around post-war Prague, a good number of them taking place with in the steel mills in which Hrabal ‘volunteered’ his labor. The people he encountered obviously affected his creative output at this stage of his career and he approaches each story with a mixture of humor, whimsy, and a healthy dose of the absurd, all of which is commentary on this new ‘revolutionary society’ which he finds himself a part of.
There is evidence of a Rimbaud/Baudelaire influence on his prose and there are times when the more surrealist elements rears its head to craft these often bizarre but thoroughly enjoyable stories. For those not familiar with Hrabal’s work, this is the perfect place to start. Recommended.
Translated by Paul Wilson