Ivan Klíma celebrates his 90th birthday

Ivan Klíma celebrates his 90th birthday

So far, the last book published to him this year is a comprehensive edition of his memoir My Mad Century. He describes his life in the twentieth century, from childhood during the Protectorate until 1989.

Ivan Klíma, original name Ivan Kauders, was born on September 14, 1931 in Prague. Due to his Jewish origin, he was imprisoned in the Terezín concentration camp for three and a half years during World War II. The whole family escaped the extermination camps thanks to their father, who was in charge of the electrical administration in the Terezín ghetto.

After the war, he graduated from high school, then studied Czech and literary studies at the Faculty of Arts in Prague. For example, he worked as an editor of the magazine Květy, published by Československý spisovatel. He contributed to Literární noviny, Mladá fronta, Hosta do domu or Orientace. From 1963 to 1969 he worked as the deputy editor-in-chief of Literární noviny.

In 1953 he became a member of the Communist Party. His father was imprisoned that year. He was expelled from the Communist Party after public criticism of the censorship of IV. Congress of Writers. In 1969 he left for the USA, where he lectured on Czech literature at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After his return in 1970, he was expelled from the organization, deprived of the opportunity to publish, and his works were discarded from libraries. He worked as a surveyor, paramedic, sweeper or messenger. However, he spent most of his time as a freelance writer.

His books became very popular in the 1960s, but began to appear more regularly on bookstores after 1989. During normalization, Klíma, like many other “anti-socialist” authors, was banned and therefore published either in samizdat editions or in abroad.

After 1989, he was offered the position of Minister of Culture. He didn’t accept her. And years ago, he said in an interview with Právo: “I never wanted to do anything that would take me time to write, so I immediately refused. I had not the slightest temptation. There is not much politics for writers, and not many good ones have ever been in it. I think of Jan Drda, but it was at a different time and his political engagement certainly did not benefit his writing. “

His books have been published in many countries. Even in Iran. Can they be understood even in such a different culture? “I think yes. My short stories based on specific stories are quite universal. I never asked how my books are sold in Iran, it’s probably not a great glory. I’m not a bestseller. In fact, I have no idea what worked out for me in Iran. I know that there were three books, I even have them here, but I can’t read their writing… So definitely one of them is Love and Trash, “he said in an interview some time ago.

Ivan Klíma is a laureate of the Egon Hostovský Prize, the Franz Kafka Prize, the Medal of Merit or the Magnesia Litera Prize in the non-fiction category for the book My Crazy Century. He has been married since 1958, and with his wife Helena they have a son Michal and a daughter Hana.

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