The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Tags: book-review

At the very least I’d say that this is not a simple novel. It is made up of 7 short stories which are somehow related to the theme of the book. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how these all connect to each other, but apart from this confusion I’d say that most of these are simply amazing with respect to writing, human emotions, wants, and confusions.

I somehow like the books where there are no heroes which take up arms against the other side and turn victorious. Life seldom is like that, and all the stories show how true is it. The stories are with Prague going under the control of Russia’s Communism and how it affects some of the characters in the book. People who are against the realm are crushed sooner or later, lives are destroyed or sometimes people move to other countries leaving their most treasured things behind, trying to get hold of them and then burning in their self created anguish. It tells the stories of how the histories are forgotten how people are forgotten, what is the meaning of death and how unromantic it really is outside of poetry; in fact how the poets are so unpoetic, random humans without the companionship of their pen and paper, living with a pride whose meaning most of the time only the poet understands.

It’s a bit autobiographical as well with Kundera interweaving the stories with the fragments of his own life, as well how he thinks about the idea under discussion. For instance, he worked as a astrologer for a newspaper for a year, he describes the life with his father who had what seems to be a description of Alzeihmers.

The characters are so humanlike and dull but in the best way possible and come out of the book because of the excellent way Kundera describes them and their situations. He provides his opinions on love, sex, sexuality, politics, writing, and death. Although these are his opinions, defined by the way of his characters, and while the reader may not understand or agree with all of it, the reading surely forces one to think about these on a deeper level, provides a fresh perspective or at least provides an unfinished structure to lean one’s own ideas against.