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The Festival of Insignificance

Milan Kundera; Linda Asher (translator)

HarperCollins, June 2015

From the internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, an unexpected and enchanting novel—the culmination of his life's work.

Casting light on the most serious of problems and at the same time saying not one serious sentence; being fascinated by the reality of the contemporary world and at the same time completely avoiding realism—that’s The Festival of Insignificance. Readers who know Milan Kundera’s earlier books know that the wish to incorporate an element of the “unserious” in a novel is not at all unexpected of him. In Immortality, Goethe and Hemingway stroll through several chapters together talking and laughing. And in Slowness, Vera, the author’s wife, says to her husband: “you’ve often told me you meant to write a book one day that would have not a single serious word in it…I warn you: watch out. Your enemies are lying in wait.”

Now, far from watching out, Kundera is finally and fully realizing his old aesthetic dream in this novel that we could easily view as a summation of his whole work. A strange sort of summation. Strange sort of epilogue. Strange sort of laughter, inspired by our time, which is comical because it has lost all sense of humor. What more can we say? Nothing. Just read.

About the Author

The Franco-Czech novelist Milan Kundera was born in Brno and has lived in France, his second homeland, since 1975. He is the author of the novels The Joke, Farewell Waltz, Life Is Elsewhere, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Immortality, and the short-story collection Laughable Loves—all originally written in Czech. His most recent novels Slowness, Identity, and Ignorance, as well as his nonfiction works The Art of the Novel, Testaments Betrayed, The Curtain, and Encounter, were originally written in French.

Praise for The Festival of Insignificance

“Stylistically and thematically, it’s classic Kundera: polyphonic, digressive, intellectual yet anti-philosophical, deliberately strange, and aggressively light. And his descriptions are as beautiful as ever.” — Booklist

“…Kundera is still the powerful and incisive writer he always was…” — New York Times Book Review

“There is a timeless quality to his philosophy about the importance of laughter…Kundera is still the powerful and incisive writer he always was.” — New York Times Book Review

“Kundera is a master at uniting disparate characters by tracing their intersecting journeys, and by allowing resonant words inside the head of one character to sing inside the thoughts of another.” — The Atlantic

“Stunningly profound…a late-career confection which, in its compact slimness, re-proves Kundera’s chops when it comes to overlapping narratives and beautifully expressing the junk and clutter of the modern world.” — NPR Books

To learn more about the book, check Harper Collins' website.

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