cover of book

The Book of Hrabal
by Peter Esterhazy
translated by Judith Sollosy
Northwestern University Press, 1994
Cloth: 978-0-8101-1192-9 | Paper: 978-0-8101-1199-8
Library of Congress Classification PH3241.E85H713 1995
Dewey Decimal Classification 894.51133

Winner of the 2004 German Publishers and Booksellers Association Peace Prize
Named a New York Times Notable Book of 1994
Winner of 1995 The New York Times Review Notable Books

An elaborate, elegant homage to the great Czech storyteller Bohumil Hrabal (author of Closely Watched Trains), The Book of Hrabal is also a farewell to the years of communism in Eastern Europe and a glowing paean to the mixed blessings of domestic life. Anna, blues-singing housewife and mother of three, addresses her reminiscences and reflections to Hrabal. They swing from domestic matters, to accounts of the injustices suffered by her family during the Stalinist 1950s and the police harassment in subsequent years, to her husband's crazy ideas. He frets over his current project, a book celebrating Hrabal, but seems unable to write it. Meanwhile, two angels, undercover as secret policemen, shadow the household-communicating via walkie-talkie-to prevent Anna from aborting her fourth child. God himself (aka Bruno) enters the scene; he chats with Hrabal, takes saxophone lessons from an irreverent Charlie Parker (unfortunately even this doesn't cure his tone-deaf ear), and tries to play the saxophone to dissuade her from ending the pregnancy.

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