The Book of Hrabal

Trade Cloth – $22.50

ISBN 978-0-8101-1192-9
Format Unavailable

Trade Paper – $21.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-1199-8
Publication Date
September 1995
Page Count
168 pages
Trim Size
4 3/4 x 8

The Book of Hrabal

Peter Esterhazy, translated from the Czech by Judith Sollosy

Winner of the 2004 German Publishers and Booksellers Association Peace Prize
Named a New York Times Notable Book of 1994
Winner of 1995 The New York Times Review Notable Books

An elaborate, elegant homage to the great Czech storyteller Bohumil Hrabal (author of Closely Watched Trains), The Book of Hrabal is also a farewell to the years of communism in Eastern Europe and a glowing paean to the mixed blessings of domestic life. Anna, blues-singing housewife and mother of three, addresses her reminiscences and reflections to Hrabal. They swing from domestic matters, to accounts of the injustices suffered by her family during the Stalinist 1950s and the police harassment in subsequent years, to her husband's crazy ideas. He frets over his current project, a book celebrating Hrabal, but seems unable to write it. Meanwhile, two angels, undercover as secret policemen, shadow the household-communicating via walkie-talkie-to prevent Anna from aborting her fourth child. God himself (aka Bruno) enters the scene; he chats with Hrabal, takes saxophone lessons from an irreverent Charlie Parker (unfortunately even this doesn't cure his tone-deaf ear), and tries to play the saxophone to dissuade her from ending the pregnancy.
About the Author

Péter Esterházy (born 14 April 1950 in Budapest) is one of the most widely known contemporary Hungarian writers. His books are considered to be significant contributions to postwar literature.

Judith Sollosy is Senior Editor at Corvina Books in Budapest. Her translations include Staccato by István Örkény and Enre Ady's Selected Shorter Fiction


"Underneath Mr. Esterházy's verbal wizardry, impudent humor and smart-aleck antics is a stinging indictment of Hungary's recently deposed regime." —New York Times Book Review

"Esterházy pays homage to Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal in a deceptively whimsical novel that addresses deadly serious questions with stylistic panache and intellectual verve." —Kirkus Reviews

"His world is one of verbal pyrotechnics, where the story is often the language itself. . . . Esterházy is a brilliant stylist rather than a plot merchant, and the book progresses through a series of shifting perspectives and changing tones rather than action. It is deeply allusive and playful. . . . The is the frontline of Hungarian literature." —The Times