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Reading Milan Kundera

I finished Kundera’s latest novel, The Festival of Insignificance. The short book might very well be the culmination of his career although it’s not his best. He uses the conversations of five friends to explore ideas of life: jokes, despair, laughter, sex and death. Death is never far off stage–as consistent in his previous works. Absent the political context of the earlier work, the one pales in, pun intended, significance.

My favorite, by far, of all Kundera’s works is Immortality. Death pervades the book, not it is not sad. Several of its leading characters are real people, but were already dead, Goethe and Hemingway. Many are killed. But the brilliant part is that death and immortality form an inseparable pair in Immortality. Despite the preoccupation with death, Kundera beautifully renders his characters that they are possessed of that lightness of being.

That all said, I still enjoy reading Kundera and hope he will continue to write. A Nobel Prize is overdue.


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