Brno Publisher To Release First Milan Kundera Novel in Czech in 27 Years

Due to the renowned Brno novelist’s famously fraught relationship with his home country, no new works have been released in Czech since 1993. Now, however, the author has finally allowed his most recent work, 2013’s “The Festival of Insignificance”, to be translated into his native language. Photo: Kundera Exhibition in Brno. Credit: MZK Archive.

Brno, Sep 2 (BD) – Milan Kundera is probably the best-known living Czech author, most famous for his 1984 work “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”. However, due to his well-known falling out with his homeland, none of his books have been released in Czech since 1993; in exile in France since 1975, Kundera has written only in French for the last three decades, forbidding any Czech translations, and insists that his books should be placed in the “French literature” section in bookstores.

Now, however, that is set to change, as the 91-year-old author has finally permitted his most recent novel, “The Festival of Insignificance”, to be translated into Czech by Anna Kareninová, and it is due for release today, Wednesday, September 2nd, by Brno publishing house Atlantis. Originally published in French in 2013, the 120-page novel, Kundera’s 11th, is set in Paris, and covers familiar themes of insignificance, sex, and philosophy.

Kareninová said that she studied Kundera’s Czech works closely, in order to capture his narrative voice as authentically as possible. “The translation of the book was done in ten drafts. During this process I returned again and again with reference to Milan Kundera’s Czech works, in order to get as close as possible to the originality of his language, as far as possible from a sleek translation artifact,” said Kareninová. After the translation was submitted to Kundera in January 2020, it was refined for a further two months with the help of Kundera’s wife Vera.

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