Why I Write?

The Early Prose from 1945 to 1952

Bohumil Hrabal

Why I Write?

Bohumil Hrabal

Distributed for Karolinum Press, Charles University

300 pages | 20 color plates | 5 1/2 x 7 1/2 | © 2019
Cloth $20.00 ISBN: 9788024642680 Will Publish January 2020 Not for sale in the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic
This collection of the earliest prose by one of literature’s greatest stylists captures, as scholar Arnault Maréchal put it, “the moment when Hrabal discovered the magic of writing.” Taken from the period when Bohumil Hrabal shifted his focus from poetry to prose, these stories—many written in school notebooks, typed and read aloud to friends, or published in samizdat—often showcase raw experiments in style that would define his later works. Others intriguingly utilize forms the author would never pursue again. Featuring the first appearance of key figures from Hrabal’s later writings, such as his real-life Uncle Pepin, who would become a character in his later fiction and is credited here as a coauthor of one piece, the book also contains stories that Hrabal would go on to cannibalize for some of his most famous novels. All together, Why I Write? offers readers the chance to explore this important nascent phase of Hrabal’s writing.

Expertly interpreted by award-winning Hrabal translator David Short, this collection comprises some of the last remaining prose works by Hrabal to be translated into English. A treasure trove for Hrabal devotees, Why I Write? allows us to see clearly why this great prose master was, as described by Czech writer and publisher Josef Škvorecký, “fundamentally a lyrical poet.”
Review Quotes
Kirkus Reviews
"A collection of formative fiction from a writer whose work has earned comparison with Joyce and Beckett. . . . The tone throughout is dark comedy, exploring human absurdity and carnality amid a universe that is at best senseless, if not malevolent. 'You insist the world can be perfect only in its totality,' says one character, 'meaning that good and evil are both necessary, otherwise it would come crashing down.' Early work from a writer who merits a larger readership."
Parul Sehgal | New York Times Book Review
“One of the great prose stylists of the twentieth century; the scourge of state censors; the gregarious bar hound and lover of gossip, beer, cats and women (in roughly that order). . . . In Hrabal’s work beauty, pity, sorrow and high silliness come tightly braided.”
Milan Kundera, author of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" | Guardian
“Our very best writer today.”
Josef Škvorecký, author of "The Engineer of Human Souls"
“Hrabal’s peculiar strength is his ability to entertain the simplest reader and yet be admired by the most intellectual of intellectuals.”
James Wood | London Review of Books
“A great writer.”
Words Without Borders
“Arguably the best prose stylist of the twentieth century.”
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