The Little Town Where Time Stood Still
by Bohumil Hrabal, with an introduction by Joshua Cohen, translated from the Czech by James Naughton
The Little Town Where Time Stood Still contains two linked narratives by the incomparable Bohumil Hrabal, whom Milan Kundera has described as “Czechoslovakia’s greatest writer.” “Cutting It Short” is set before World War II in a small country town, and it relates the scandalizing escapades of Maryška, the flamboyant wife of Francin, who manages the local brewery. Maryška drinks. She rides a bicycle, letting her long hair fly. She butchers pigs, frolics in blood, and leads on the local butcher. She’s a Madame Bovary without apologies driven to keep up with the new fast-paced mechanized modern world that is obliterating whatever sleepy pieties are left over from the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire. "The Little Town Where Time Stood Still" is told by Maryška and Francin’s son and concerns the exploits of his Uncle Pepin, who holds his own against the occupying Nazis but succumbs to silence as the new post–World War II Communist order cements its colorless control over daily life. Together, Hrabal’s rousing and outrageous yarns stand as a hilarious and heartbreaking tribute to the always imperiled sweetness of lust, love, and life.
Read the stories. Read the novels. Just read Hrabal.
—John Yargo, The Millions
Hrabal is a most sophisticated novelist, with a gusting humour and a hushed tenderness of detail.
Hrabal’s comedy is completely paradoxical. Holding in balance limitless desire and limited satisfaction, it is both rebellious and fatalistic, restless and wise.
Czechoslovakia’s greatest living writer.
Hrabal, to my mind, is one of the greatest living European prose writers.
Hrabal combines good humour and hilarity with tenderness and a tragic sense of his country’s history.
There are pages of queer magic unlike anything currently being done with words.
A magnificent author.
Praise for Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age (NYRB Classics)
Dancing Lessons unfurls as a single, sometimes maddening sentence. The gambit works. Something about that slab of wordage carries the eye forward, promising an intensity simply unattainable by your regularly punctuated novel.
—Ed Park, The New York Times Book Review
What Hrabal has created is an informal history of the indomitable Czech spirit. And perhaps...the human spirit.
—The Times (London)