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Too Loud a Solitude


A short novel by Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal, called "our very best writer today" by Milan Kundera, this eccentric romp celebrates the indestructability––against censorship and political oppression––of the written word. 

Too Loud a Solitude is a tender and funny story of Hanta––a man who has lived in a Czech police state––for 35 years, working as compactor of wastepaper and books. In the process of compacting, he has acquired an education so unwitting he can't quite tell which of his thoughts are his own and which come from his books. He has rescued many from jaws of hydraulic press and now his house is filled to the rooftops. Destroyer of the written word, he is also its perpetrator.

But when a new automatic press makes his job redundant there's only one thing he can do––go down with his ship.


"Hrabal bounces and floats. His mode is a sort of dancing realism, somewhere between fairy tale and satire. He is a most sophisticated novelist, with a gusting humour and a hushed tenderness of detail. We should read him" -- Julian Barnes

"One of the most authentic incarnations of magical Prague; an incredible union of earthy humour and baroque imagination... What is unique about Hrabal is his capacity for joy" -- Milan Kundera

"Hrabal's comedy is completely paradoxical. Holding in balance limitless desire and limited satisfaction, it is both rebellious and fatalistic, restless and wise" -- James Wood ― London Review of Books

"Hrabal is a spider of a writer: subtle and sly, patient, with invisible designs. He never proclaims ―he never needs to. He envelops."
― Parul Sehgal, The New York Times Book Review

"Hrabal, to my mind, is one of the greatest European prose writers."
― Philip Roth

"The essence of Hrabal’s fiction is to draw beauty from what isn’t, to find hope where we’re not likely to look―to show that we are all of us ‘magnificent.’"
― Meghan Forbes, Los Angeles Review of Books

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