Anyone even remotely familiar with Czech literature will know Ivan Klíma and his work.
The author of more than 40 novels, short-story collections, plays and books of essays, Klíma, born in 1931 in Prague, has been richly awarded for his work, receiving the Magnesia Litera Award and the Franz Kafka Prize, among other honors. But Klíma is more than simply a star in the Czech literary firmament; his work has been translated into some 32 languages - an unheard-of feat for a Czech writer.
At the age of 10, Klíma, who is Jewish, and his family were forcibly relocated to the Terezín ghetto, where they lived until the end of World War II. After completing studies at Charles University, he worked as an editor for Literární noviny. When the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, Klíma happened to be visiting London. He returned home, leaving Prague again the next year for a six-month visiting professorship at the University of Michigan. After returning to his homeland, he was immediately forbidden from publishing, a ban that remained in place until 1989 while Klíma became a centerpiece of the underground literary scene, maintaining close ties with Václav Havel and Ludvík Vaculík, among others.
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