Bliss was it in Bohemia
by Michal Viewegh
Translated by David Short
Foreword by Veronika Pehe
A wildly comic story about the fate of a Czech family from the 1960s onwards. At turns humorous, ironic and sentimental, an engaging portrait of their attempts to flee from history (meaning the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia ) – or at least to ignore it as long as possible...
The author depicts his parents' life stories and also his own adolescence with humorous hyperbole. The account focuses on the difficulties of the father, an idiosyncratic workaholic whose efforts to protect his family regularly involve losing his dignity. At the same time, the extraordinarily gifted Kvido narrates his own teenage troubles, as an aspiring writer, in a world that is not of his own choosing.
Light-hearted and sophisticated at once, this is a book that reminds us that comedy can tackle large historical subjects successfully.
“It is high time the successor to Milan Kundera's throne was declared – and it can be no other than Michal Viewegh. Viewegh achieves a symbiosis of the substantial, the important and the entertaining. His books are intelligent yet easy to read; they are comprehensive yet simple.”
— Thomas Brussig,
“(...) arguably one of the best satirical novels on the transition from totalitarianism to self-regulation, written in the spirit of Viewegh’s great compatriot Jaroslav Hašek’s The Good Soldier Švejk (...). Transcending their respective historical circumstances, both texts act as general-purpose antidotes to highly stressful and frustrating situations, instructing us on how to part with our past cheerfully.”
— Andrei Rogatchevski,
“With a unique juxtaposition of comedy and chaos, the author reflects the complexity of human emotional responses, telling stories both of universal human experience and particular historical significance.”
“(...) much of the novel is indeed very funny – Viewegh demonstrating a fine comic style, a natural sort of touch for this kind of thing, that doesn't make it seem like he's trying too hard.”
Winner of the Jiří Orten Prize for the best book written by an author under 30 years of age.