Mr. Kafka: And Other Tales from the Time of the Cult

Bohumil Hrabal (Author) Paul Wilson (Translator)
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Never before published in English, the stories in Mr. Kafka and Other Tales from the Time of the Cult were written mostly in the 1950s and present the Czech master Bohumil Hrabal at the height of his powers. The stories capture a time when Czech Stalinists were turning society upside down, inflicting their social and political experiments on mostly unwilling subjects. These stories are set variously in the gas-lit streets of post-war Prague; on the raucous and dangerous factory floor of the famous Poldi steelworks where Hrabal himself once worked; in a cacophonous open-air dance hall where classical and popular music come to blows; at the basement studio where a crazed artist attempts to fashion a national icon; on the scaffolding around a decommissioned church. Hrabal captures men and women trapped in an eerily beautiful nightmare, longing for a world where humor and metaphysical escape can reign supreme. "

Product Details

New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
October 27, 2015
5.1 X 0.4 X 7.9 inches | 0.3 pounds
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About the Author

Bohumil Hrabal was born in 1914 in Brno-Zidenice, Moravia. He received a degree in Law from Prague's Charles University, and lived in Prague since the late 1940s. In the 1950s he worked as a manual laborer in the Kladno ironworks, from which he drew inspiration for his "hyper-realist" texts he was writing at that time. He won international acclaim for such books as I Served the King of England and Too Loud a Solitude. Hrabal is considered, along with Jaroslav Hasek and Karel Capek, one of the greatest Czech writers of the 20th century, and perhaps the most important in the postwar period.
Paul Wilson has translated books by Václav Havel, Bohumil Hrabal, Ivan Klima and Josef Skvorecký. He lives in Canada.


One of the most authentic incarnations of magical Prague, an incredible union of earthy humor and baroque imagination.--Milan Kundera
Hrabal's magical stories are comic and human--they are really desires embodied. . . . They inhabit a utopian province, the realm of laughter and tears.--James Wood
The essence of Hrabal's fiction is to draw beauty from what isn't, to find hope where we're not likely to look . . . to show that we are all of us 'magnificent.'--Meghan Forbes
An often powerful and occasionally unnerving collection of stories from a half-century ago [...] the timelessness of the best of these stories attests to a human spirit undimmed by the darkest of circumstances.