Enter the gas-lit streets of post-war Prague, the steelworks run by singed men, the covered market that smells of new-born babes, the cacophonous open-air dance hall. Mr Kafka is avoiding his landlady's blueberry wine breath, a stonemason witnesses the destruction of a monument to Stalin he risked his life to build, and factory men strain to catch a glimpse of a beautiful bathing murderess. In these newly discovered stories, Hrabal captures men and women in an eerily beautiful nightmare and their spirit in all its misery and splendour.
Bohumil Hrabal was born in 1914 in Brno-Zidenice, Moravia. He received a degree in Law from Prague's Charles University, and lived in Prague since the late 1940s. In the 1950s he worked as a manual laborer in the Kladno ironworks, from which he drew inspiration for his "hyper-realist" texts he was writing at that time. He won international acclaim for such books as I Served the King of England and Too Loud a Solitude. Hrabal is considered, along with Jaroslav Hasek and Karel Capek, as one of the greatest Czech writers of the 20th century, and perhaps the most important in the post-war period. In February 1997 he flew out of his hospital window never to return.