From the internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being comes an unexpected and enchanting novel—the culmination of his life’s work—that is a hymn to friendship and an original and humorous commentary on our era and how we live now.
Set in Paris today, the novel follows four friends who run into each other in the Luxembourg Gardens, attend parties, and conduct a long-running exchange on sex, desire, history, art, and even the meaning of human existence. As in all novels by this literary master, The Festival of Insignificance contains both fiction and a critical commentary on contemporary reality. Alain, one of the friends, is fascinated by the exposed belly buttons of passing women—the latest fashion—and takes navel-gazing to imaginative, erotic heights. Another, who has just been told that he does not have cancer, tells a friend that his case is terminal. Kundera moves effortlessly from a ferocious parody of Stalinism to playful ridicule of our own times. Neither the Stalinist period nor our own knows how to take a joke, or even how to recognize one. Kundera pokes fun at our sense of self-importance, and one of the friends, Ramon, proposes that we rejoice in the freedom of recognizing our own insignificance. What a liberating thought!
The Festival of Insignificance takes up all the themes that have informed this great writer’s fiction, embracing the comic and laughing at a culture and a society that has lost what is most vital to life: that necessary and seemingly elusive sense of humor. Download and start listening now!