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Set in Czechoslovakia before, during and after the Velvet Revolution, this is the story of Pavel, a middle-aged television cameraman working uneasily within the boundaries set by the Communist regime. When it collapses, he finds himself unprepared for the new world of supposed freedom.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781862071018
ISBN-10: 1862071012
Format: Paperback
(196mm x 129mm x mm)
Pages: 240
Imprint: Granta Books
Publisher: Granta Books
Publish Date: 10-Sep-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » When the Iron Curtain fell apart, a collective panic seized thriller writers in the west as they were faced with a world without the Stasi and the KGB. Less attention, however, was paid to that intrepid, brave and enormously talented band of writers who had been writing about the horrors of communism from within. The Czech dissident Ivan Kl'ma has tackled this problem head on in a wonderfully sad yet funny story about a middle-aged cameraman for television who had spent the years of oppression dreaming of the freedom to make a film which would really describe the realities of life; only to find that the imperatives of his own psyche prevent him taking advantage of freedom when it comes. It would be too simplistic to say that the moral of the story is that freedom is in the mind only; a capitalist system bestows benefits, but human nature remains constant. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Czech writer and former dissident Klima (My Golden Trades, 1994, etc.) eloquently limns the troubling dilemma of a life set free too late. Like so many of his contemporaries behind the Iron Curtain, talented filmmaker Pavel Fuka, protagonist of this post-revolutionary novel, tried to survive the dark years with his integrity and ambition intact. But, as Klima movingly details, youthful ideals and a sense of one's own creative powers are not enough to withstand a system devised to crush the human spirit. Pavel, who once believed in something, became a man who "lacked hope, hope that something in life had real meaning." Moving between the past and the recent present, Pavel describes the long years he spent working for state-run television. There, as his requests to film conditions in an explosives factory or a psychiatric hospital were routinely denied, he filmed, instead, meaningless ceremonies, meetings, and interviews. He also recalls early ambitions of filmmaking and travel; a failed youthful attempt to escape and subsequent imprisonment; two futile love affairs; and his present dissatisfactions. He dreams of making a great film, one with the same title as the novel, but when the revolution comes Pavel is no less unhappy, as he embarks on remunerative but sleazy enterprises with former colleagues. The changes come too late: Pavel cannot make his long-dreamed-of film, because "there's nothing easier than persuading yourself you could really do something if you tried, as long as you know that they'll never give you the chance. The system never allowed you to win, so it saved you from defeat as well." A quiet but searing portrait, as powerful as any of Klima's pre-revolutionary novels, of a man and a society irreparably wounded by an oppressive past. (Kirkus Reviews)


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