This book is about a magic house towering above the Czech city of Brno. The house was custom built by a visionary architect for a Jewish-Catholic newlywed couple in the 1920s. The new house projects wealth, self-confidence, beauty and a new architectural form. The couple only gets to enjoy the house until the country is occupied by the Nazi army and the family has to leave everything behind and flee. Their lives as refugees continue from country to country.
This enjoyable Czech comedy concerns an aging man named Fanda, retired from the theater, and his sidekick, who refuse to become emeritus vegetables, living corpses. To stay involved in the world they cook up harebrained schemes that dig them deeper into trouble. By contrast, Fanda’s wife nourishes a petty bourgeois death cult, devoting their pension to saving for a respectable funeral and burial plot.
The author of the celebrated novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and, my personal favorite of his novels, “Ignorance,” Milan Kundera is a writer whose work I always look forward to reading. His new book, “Encounter,” is a mix of essays and short stories. In it, Kundera offers his personal reflections on artists and writers who have been important to him.