Milan Kundera, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, author, dies aged 94

Czech-born writer Milan Kundera, known for his novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being, has passed away at the age of 94. 

Kundera spent nearly five decades living in Paris after leaving his homeland in 1975 due to “anti-communist activities” and the revocation of his Czech citizenship in 1979. He became a French citizen in 1981. Kundera’s works, including The Unbearable Lightness of Being, explored themes of being and betrayal and gained international acclaim. The novel, set in Prague in 1968, follows two couples as they navigate politics and infidelity, delving into the tension between freedom and responsibility.

Kundera’s writing left a lasting impact on readers and fellow writers. Salman Rushdie, in tribute to Kundera, stated, “Like all great writers, Milan Kundera leaves indelible marks on his readers’ imaginations”. 

Kundera’s ideas on the struggle of memory against forgetting and the concept of the “lightness of being” resonated with many. Throughout his career, Kundera was often considered a contender for the Nobel Prize in literature.

Born on April 1, 1929, in Brno, Kundera initially studied music before turning to writing. Despite rejecting the socialist realism required of writers in 1950s Czechoslovakia, his literary reputation grew with the publication of poems, plays and novels. Kundera’s first novel, The Joke, was inspired by the political climate of the time and became a success. However, after the arrival of Russian tanks in Wenceslas Square, Kundera found himself blacklisted and fired from his teaching job. He eventually moved to France in 1975, where he continued to write and publish his works.

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