Title: The Joke
Author: Milan Kundera
Published In: 1969
My Rating: 3 on 5
Milan Kundera is one of those writers who can leave a long lasting effect on you. I met (you know what I mean) Kundera when I read his The Unbearable Lightness of Being and was so taken by surprise that I wondered if I was actually reading that book or dreaming. I did not care about the story that much, but the philosophical notes that interspersed the story chapters were the best part about that book. Having been completely blown away by his first book, it was only natural that I picked up The Joke from the library.
The book is about a young man, Ludvik Jahn, whose life changes for the worst owing to an innocent joke he cracks in a letter written to his girlfriend. What he thought would be a funny comeback makes him look like a traitor to Communism and is kicked out of university and makes him end up in a prison.
I went on taking in the story hoping to read some more philosophical meanderings from the author, but they never came. The book was one big rant: most (if not all) of the characters appear morose and lacking something or the other in life. I am not sure if it is the translation, but the language did not have the kind of impact I was expecting. This book is supposedly the one which brought recognition to Kundera in the English speaking countries. I fail to see what is it about this book, but I found it lacking on many fronts. The characters lack depth, the story is quite boring and the language is not that great either. There were some parts which held my attention, but a major part of the book was one big, boring read.
This in no way stops me from reading more from Kundera. I took back so much from his first book, that the second one is no deterrent. I hope I like what I pick up next.
This book qualifies for2nds Challenge 2011.