The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by Milan Kundera

This is…not my kind of book. But I rated it four stars anyway, which tells you something.

The story concerns many neurotic people caught up in the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the havoc their dissolute ways wreak on their lives, along with all the rationalizations and false significances you would expect.

It is very well written, though. The writing manages to avoid most of the traps of these kinds of stories: It’s light and poetic without being pretentious. You end up caring about the characters, sometimes against your better judgment. Rooting for them, even.

It presents an unsentimental view of communism as well as an unsentimental view of the free world, and does so without creating a moral equivalence, which is kind of interesting. Our characters’ situations are certainly not helped by the emerging totalitarianism of the day, but they’re also not helped by the social chaos beyond the iron curtain. And ultimately their problems are their own.

I give it high marks for that.

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