Milan Kundera, born in 1929, is without question the most famous living Czech-born writer and among the nation’s most gifted thinkers. Although a celebrated poet during the Stalinist era and a lecturer in world literature, Kundera did not start working on his first novel, The Joke, until 1965, when he was thirty-three. While visiting friends in a mining region of Moravia, he heard the story of a girl jailed for stealing flowers from a cemetery to give her boyfriend. Kundera began to imagine what life would be like – at the height of Stalinism – for a girl for whom sexuality and love were tragically discrete; of a man who seduces the wife of his old nemesis out of revenge, thereby turning the act of making love into an act of hate. The politically provocative book was a sensation in Czechoslovakia when finally published in 1967 – a year before Soviet-led tanks rolled in to crush the Prague Spring reform movement that had allowed for such a novel to be published in the Eastern Bloc country.


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?