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Péter Esterházy: Hrabal könyve (The Book of Hrabal)

Another of Esterházy’s fun post-modernist ramblings. This one is a sort of offbeat tribute to the Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal but it is more (or less) than that. Two streetwise angels, Blaise and Gabriel, disguised, of course, as secret police, track the household of the author and, in particular, his wife, Anna, who is pregnant with their fourth child but is thinking of having an abortion. They are, of course, in frequent contact with God, who comes across as some sort of low-rent Godfather. Meanwhile, Anna communicates, by letter, with Hrabal, discussing a multitude of things but, in particular, police repression and the Stalinist state, general domestic affairs and her apparently not very platonic love for Hrabal. Is this love reciprocated? Does she even know Hrabal? I don’t know and, frankly, my dear, I don’t give a monkey’s toss.

Publishing history

First published in Hungarian 1990 by Magveto, Budapest
First published in English 1993 by Quartet
Translated by Judith Sollosy