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Publisher's Summary

From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, an unexpected and enchanting novel - the culmination of his life's work.

Casting light on the most serious of problems and at the same time saying not one serious sentence; being fascinated by the reality of the contemporary world and at the same time completely avoiding realism - that's The Festival of Insignificance. Listeners who know Milan Kundera's earlier books know that the wish to incorporate an element of the "unserious" in a novel is not at all unexpected of him. In Immortality, Goethe and Hemingway stroll through several chapters together, talking and laughing. And in Slowness, Vera, the author's wife, says to her husband: "You've often told me you meant to write a book one day that would have not a single serious word in it.... I warn you: Watch out. Your enemies are lying in wait."

Now, far from watching out, Kundera is finally and fully realizing his old aesthetic dream in this novel that we could easily view as a summation of his whole work. A strange sort of summation. Strange sort of epilogue. Strange sort of laughter, inspired by our time, which is comical because it has lost all sense of humor. What more can we say? Nothing. Just listen.

©2013 Milan Kundera; English translation copyright 2015 by Linda Asher (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 07-14-15

A Review of Little Significance.

“We’ve known for a long time that it was no longer possible to overturn this world, nor reshape it, nor head off its dangerous headlong rush. There’s been only one possible resistance: to not take it seriously.”

- Milan Kundera, The Festival of Insignificance

Recently, I tried to sell my wife on the idea that the key to happiness was low expectations. The less she expected of me the happier she would be. Kundera, I'm afraid, would disagree. Or at least he would want to edit my maxim. For Kundera, the key to happiness might just be accepting our insignificance.

In this short, short novel Kundera uses the conversations of five friends (Ramon, Charles, Alain, D’Ardelo and Caliban) to explore ideas of life (jokes, despair, laughter, sex and death). In someways this novel seems like an existentialist Koan. Kundera is folding his little book up like a paper airplane, and letting it go. He is 83. He hopes he will be remembered, but ultimately, he has reached that point where he knows that even that desire is a bit absurd. Everybody dies. Most are forgotten. Only occasionally will we remember a Stalin or a why a town was named for a guy who peed his pants.

16 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful book wonderfully narrated

Kundera is still a master. This book is like all his work crystalized into this one. Together with the perfect narration it really makes a work of art. I just loved every single minute of it.

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Insignificant!

This book was a waste of time and mind. I'm probably in the wrong side of the critics that loved this book. I hated! The title was an honest warning! Richmond's narration saves the story with a very good reading skill. Sorry Kundera, this was horrible!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful