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Heartlessness

Neal Ascherson, 19 December 1991

Judge on Trial 
by Ivan Klima, translated by A.G. Brain.
Chatto, 547 pp., £14.99, November 1991, 9780701133498
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... oneself of evil and to atone for guilt conceals within it the risk of new crimes and new wrongs. Ivan Klima must have written that passage in about 1985. Judge on Trial was finished three years before the revolution of November 1989. But today the theme of those two paragraphs is at the centre of Czech and Slovak consciences. This is the moral crisis over ...

Ariel goes to the police

Karl Miller, 4 December 1986

Life is elsewhere 
by Milan Kundera, translated by Peter Kussi.
Faber, 311 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 14560 4
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My First Loves 
by Ivan Klima, translated by Ewald Oser.
Chatto, 164 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 7011 3014 8
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... sent him to the camps. Am I making heavy weather? It’s more than likely. Let me turn to Ivan Klima, who could be called a lyric author. The notion of what it is to be such an author is duly stretched in these gentle and deliberate stories, which read as if they have been grown and stored before being made public. The boy poet Klima loves ...

Conversions

Gabriele Annan: Ivan Klíma, 13 December 2001

No Saints or Angels 
by Ivan Klíma, translated by Gerald Turner.
Granta, 267 pp., £14.99, October 2001, 1 86207 448 8
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... that might naturally occur), by which moral or spiritual relations are typically set forth’. Klíma’s new novel fits the description exactly. There are three main characters, who take it in turns to tell the story and do a lot of thinking about ‘moral or spiritual relations’, each in his or her own voice and idiom. The central one is a ...

Between Kisses

Peter McDonald, 1 October 1987

The Propheteers 
by Max Apple.
Faber, 306 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 571 14878 6
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A Summer Affair 
by Ivan Klima, translated by Ewald Osers.
Chatto, 263 pp., £11.95, June 1987, 0 7011 3140 3
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People For Lunch 
by Georgina Hammick.
Methuen, 191 pp., £9.95, June 1987, 0 413 14900 5
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... of a profit-society in which everyone, even among the winners, ends up losing. The Czech novelist Ivan Klima’s 1972 novel A Summer Affair has yet to see the light of day in its country of origin. Not that we’re dealing in red-hot political exposé here: the novel is exactly what its title suggests, depicting a brief, intense and bitter affair between a ...

Clean Sweep

Philip Horne, 10 May 1990

Love and Garbage 
by Ivan Klima, translated by Ewald Osers.
Chatto, 217 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3362 7
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The Storyteller 
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 246 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 571 15208 2
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The Chase 
by Alejo Carpentier, translated by Alfred Mac Adam.
Deutsch, 122 pp., £9.95, March 1990, 0 233 98550 6
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Aura 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Lysander Kemp.
Deutsch, 88 pp., £9.95, April 1990, 0 233 98470 4
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... Klima’s fine, disconsolate novel is scarcely the cliché its blurb makes it out – ‘a moving account of the fate of the dissident artist under an oppressive regime’ – because Klima’s reason for joining a team of Prague street-sweepers is not exactly that he has been forced to do it by the state. ‘I needed to go somewhere in the morning, at least I’d now have a natural objective for a while: set out somewhere, perform whatever kind of activity and listen to whatever kind of talk, just so I don’t have to sit amidst the silence listening to the snapping of threads ...

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