Česká centra, Czech Centres

Česká centra / Czech centres - logo


Nov 11, 2013 7:00 PM

Ivan Klíma - My Crazy Century

The acclaimed Czech writer Ivan Klima will be reading and discussing his latest publication MY CRAZY CENTURY.


Ivan Klima in conversation with Laszlo Jaka Orsos, director of PEN World Voices Festival, discussing his new memoir MY CRAZY CENTURY.

“In My Crazy Century, the renowned Czech writer Ivan Klima masterfully recounts, first, what it was like for him as a Jewish child confronting with his family the inhumanities of the Theresienstadt concentration camp situated at the edge of their hometown, Prague. Then, more fully, he painstakingly recalls what it was like for him and his countrymen after the Nazi thugs were driven out by the Soviet Army and replaced for four decades by the Communist thugs. How Klima and his Czechoslovakian colleagues—among them some of the best writers in postwar Europe—endured the relentless infraction of their fundamental rights is chronicled here through the private history of one who steadily stood up to his oppressors and who has thought deeply about the degradation and deformation conferred on a decent society by the lawless thuggery of Europe’s twentieth-century ideological monsters, one who preached racial purity and the annihilation of the Jews, the other working-class purity and the annihilation of the wealthy, the bourgeoisie, and anyone capable of independent thought. In its telling, forthright intimacy Klima’s book merits a place alongside such eyewitness accounts of the evils of totalitarianism as Eugenia Ginzburg’s Within the Whirlwind and Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.”Philip Roth

Internationally acclaimed Czech writer Ivan Klima has lived a remarkable life during a turbulent period in history. While many of his novels are partly autobiographical, he now has written a memoir about those days largely spent under occupation by two totalitarian regimes—Nazi and Communist.  In MY CRAZY CENTURY (Grove Press; Translated from the Czech by Craig Cravens; $30; 534 pages; 8 page b&w photo insert; November 5, 2013), Klima tells his personal story as a writer, editor, and dissident, but he also takes a fascinating look at this critical time from the perspective of a key player—from World War II to Communist rule to the brief hope of the Prague Spring in 1968 to the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

In MY CRAZY CENTURY, Klíma takes us from his first experience of oppression during WWII when his family was interned in the Terezín ghetto to his struggle as a dissident in the years leading up to the Velvet Revolution of 1989. In-between those landmark bookends, he writes of his life spent living and writing under Communist rule. Like many of his generation, Klima briefly joined the Party—something he would later grow to regret as he witnessed its criminal nature. And when his work was banned after the Prague Spring in ‘68, Klima began a twenty-year resistance against the Soviet backed puppet regime. In captivating detail, Klíma describes the atmosphere of publishing samizdat, the house searches and interrogations, the drafting of Charter 77, and the clandestine meetings alongside his peers, including Vaclav Havel, Josef Skvorecky, and Pavel Kohout.

MY CRAZY CENTURY was originally published in the Czech Republic in two volumes, each of which was over 500 pages, has now been translated and re-edited by Klima into this one volume for the US and UK publications.  The new edition will also include insightful essays written by Klima on topics related to social history, political thinking, love and freedom.

Klíma’s personal account contemplates the way in which this crazy century led mankind astray and impacted the lives of not only Klíma’s generation but today’s generations still grappling with totalitarian societies. MY CRAZY CENTURY provides a profoundly rich and moving personal and national history.

Ivan Klima was born in Prague in 1931, where he still resides.   He is the author of over thirty plays, essay collections, and novels, including Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light, No Saints or Angels, The Ultimate Intimacy, and Lovers for a Day—all New York Times Notable Books of the Year—as well as love and GarbageMy Crazy Century won the prestigious Magnesia Litera Award for nonfiction.

Organized by the Czech Center New York and Grove Press


Click here to plan your trip to the Czech Center with Trip Planner+.
Trip Planner+ takes into account subway reroutes due to planned service changes.


Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


Nov 11, 2013 7:00 PM


Czech Centre

Remind me
This event has already started.