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My Crazy Century (Hardback)
  • My Crazy Century (Hardback)
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My Crazy Century (Hardback)

(author), (translator)
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£21.99
Hardback 534 Pages / Published: 21/11/2013
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In his intimate autobiography, spanning six decades that included war, totalitarianism, censorship, and the fight for democracy, acclaimed Czech writer Ivan Kl ma reflects back on his remarkable life and this critical period of twentieth-century history.

Kl ma's story begins in the 1930s on the outskirts of Prague where he grew up unaware of his concealed Jewish heritage. It came as a surprise when his family was transported to the Terez n concentration camp--and an even greater surprise when most of them survived. They returned home to a city in economic turmoil and falling into the grip of Communism. Against this tumultuous backdrop, Kl ma discovered his love of literature and matured as a writer. But as the regime further encroached on daily life, arresting his father and censoring his work, Kl ma recognized the party for what it was: a deplorable, colossal lie. The true nature of oppression became clear to him and many of his peers, among them Josef Skvoreck , Milan Kundera, and V clav Havel. From the brief hope of freedom during the Prague Spring of 1968 to Charter 77 and the eventual collapse of the regime in 1989's Velvet Revolution, Kl ma's revelatory account provides a profoundly rich personal and national history.

Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press
ISBN: 9780802121707
Number of pages: 534
Weight: 862 g
Dimensions: 231 x 163 x 51 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"In My Crazy Century, the renowned Czech writer Ivan Kl ma masterfully recounts, first, what it was like for him as a Jewish child confronting with his family the inhumanities of the Theresienstadt concentration camp situated at the edge of their hometown, Prague. Then, more fully, he painstakingly recalls what it was like for him and his countrymen after the Nazi thugs were driven out by the Soviet Army and replaced for four decades by the Communist thugs. How Kl ma and his Czechoslovakian colleagues--among them some of the best writers in postwar Europe--endured the relentless infraction of their fundamental rights is chronicled here through the private history of one who steadily stood up to his oppressors and who has thought deeply about the degradation and deformation conferred on a decent society by the lawless thuggery of Europe's twentieth-century ideological monsters, one who preached racial purity and the annihilation of the Jews, the other working-class purity and the annihilation of the wealthy, the bourgeoisie, and anyone capable of independent thought. In its telling, forthright intimacy Kl ma's book merits a place alongside such eyewitness accounts of the evils of totalitarianism as Eugenia Ginzburg's Within the Whirlwind and Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." --Philip Roth

"My Crazy Century is the prizewinning memoir of a writer who, deprived of freedom for much of this life, never ceased to be free in his imagination, creativity, and art. Neither Nazi nor Communist rulers could rob Ivan Kl ma of his amazing ability--and fierce determination--to distill drops of truth from the sea of experience. Kl ma was a witness, and participant, in the most dramatic events in twentieth century Europe. This is his story, brilliantly, wittily and poignantly told." --Madeleine Albright

"My Crazy Century describes how a man lived without freedom and fought for it. . . . [Kl ma] offers a vivid telling of a courageous man's life and times, something that can speak to all of us." --Washington Independent Review of Books

"[An] absorbing memoir . . . The author relates all this with a mordant humor and a limpid prose that registers both the overt fear that repression engenders and the subtler moral corruptions it works in victims and perpetrators. . . . Kl ma's searching exploration of a warped era is rich in irony--and dogged hope." --Publishers Weekly

"A sweeping, revealing look at one man's personal struggle as writer and individual, set against the backdrop of political turmoil." --Booklist

"From the Nazi concentration camps to the communist show trials, Kl ma shines a vibrant light on the machinery of oppression and the struggles of artists and intellectuals to subvert government control. . . . More than a memoir, the book is the intellectual history of a city and a memorial to its inhabitants, who, laboring underground, kept the idea of democracy alive after the Prague Spring. A fitting capstone to a distinguished literary life." --Kirkus Reviews

"Impassioned . . . [with a] mixture of witty anecdotes and descriptions of grand events . . . it seems almost inconceivable that totalitarian regimes were still in power, right at the heart of Europe, a mere 25 years ago. A reminder, perhaps, not to take our freedoms for granted." --Daily Telegraph

"A wonderful introduction to Czech literature and the comic genius of Ivan Kl ma. . . . The memoir is funny, bitter, hopeful, and raging." --New York Journal of Books

"A candid, illuminating memoir of a man who retained his humanity in inhumane times, and used the light of reason to resist an absurdist regime. Klima's account of living in the shadow of censorship and in the spotlight of Cold War events gives us intimate insight into the vicissitudes of literature in 'the Other Europe, ' and the exceptional courage required of writers in repressive epochs to speak simple truths to capricious power." --Eva Hoffman

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Reviews

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“Czechmates”

Klima’s book is excellent not only as a quasi-autobiography of one of the best-loved living authors in the modern-day Czech Republic, but also as a study in the courage and passive resistance of a nation under a half... More

Paperback edition
17th June 2014
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