My Crazy Century

Ivan Klíma (Author) Craig Cravens (Translator)

Product Details

$30.00  $27.60
Grove Press
Publish Date
October 22, 2013
6.4 X 2.0 X 9.1 inches | 1.9 pounds
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About the Author

Ivan Klima was born in Prague in 1931. He is the award-winning author of over 20 novels, including "Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light," "No Saints or Angels," "The Ultimate Intimacy," and "Lovers for a Day"--all "New York Times" Notable Books of the Year.
Craig Cravens (translator) has taught Czech language and culture for over 10 years; he is currently a senior lecturer at Indiana State University. He has a PhD in Slavic languages and literature from Princeton University and a BA from Amherst College in Russian Literature.


"In My Crazy Century, the renowned Czech writer Ivan Klíma 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 Klíma 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 Klíma'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 Klíma of his amazing ability--and fierce determination--to distill drops of truth from the sea of experience. Klíma 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. . . . [Klíma] 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. . . . Klíma'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, Klíma 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 Klíma. . . . 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