Closely Watched Trains is one of Bohumil Hrabal’s most popular and translated books. Written in 1965, the book is also adapted for the big screen and won the 1967 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. If you’ve only read Kafka and Milan Kundera from Czech literature, I think you should meet this author as well. This book, which is also in the list of 1001 Books You Should Read Before You Die, will be a great choice by those who seek different tastes from world literature.
Closely Watched Trains depicts German-occupied Czechoslovakia from a train station. In this train station, located in a small town, life is slow, and the tension and unhappiness of the war have collapsed everywhere. Still, people can’t do without following the station chief’s inappropriate relationship with a young girl working there. This relationship, which adds a little colour to their dark and colourless lives as it is, concerns everyone.
The youngest employee, virgin Milos, is affected by this relationship and the war as much as anyone else. Milos’ virginity is growing like an avalanche; he risks many things to be a man. The war outside greatly affects the war inside him. And when he finally reached his manhood, oh well, that is for you to find out. This is one of the most famous novels written after the war. Maybe not for everyone, but I think those who are interested in world literature should read this book. Enjoy!
Closely Watched Trains
For twenty-two-year-old Milos, bumbling apprentice at a sleepy Czech railway station, life is full of worries: his burdensome virginity, his love for the pretty conductor Masha, the scandalous goings-on in the station master’s office. Beside them, the part he will come to play against the occupying Germans seems a simple affair, in Bohumil Hrabal’s touching, an absurd masterpiece of humour, humanity and heroism.
Closely Watched Trains, which became the award-winning Jiri Menzel film of the ‘Prague Spring’, is a masterpiece that fully justifies Hrabal’s reputation as one of the best Czech writers of the twentieth century.
Bohumil Hrabal was a Czech writer, often named among the best Czech writers of the 20th century.
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