Winner, 1998 PEN Center USA West Award for Translation Josef Hirsal's experimental novel is a Dada-like romp through the life of a young man born into a Bohemian peasant family. Told in five parts, A Bohemian Youth begins with a word to the wise, moves on to the text, continues with notes and with notes to the note, and ends with a note on the notes to the notes.
More than just a tongue-in-cheek parody of a literary memoir, A Bohemian Youth is a glimpse of the First Czechoslovak Republic as seen through the eyes of a young peasant from the provinces. Abounding in intimate details--the manners of a servant girl, the habits of the town homosexual, the sounds of popular music; the way people eat in wartime--Hirsal's novel is a wrenching and hilarious tale of a young man's emotional and sexual awakening.
Josef Hirsal was born in 1920 in Chomuticky in northeastern Bohemia. He became known in the 1960s as a poet and translator and was blacklisted after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. He now lives in Prague. Michael Henry Heim was a professor of Slavic languages and literatures at UCLA. His translations of Dubravka Ugresic's Fording the Stream of Consciousness and Felix Roziner's A Certain Finkelmeyer have also been published by Northwestern University Press.