Ivan Klíma

Ivan Klíma

One of the most frequently translated Czech authors and recipient of the prestigious Franz Kafka Prize (2002), the Magnesia Litera (2010), the Karel Čapek Award (2010) and the Ferdinand Peroutka Award (2013). As a child he spent three years in the Terezín Ghetto. He was kept under surveillance by the Communists and he helped to set up the Petlice samizdat editions. He was born in Prague on 14 September 1931.


Title Publisher Year Selected published translations Awards
Love and Garbage (Láska a smetí) Academia 2013 ES | EN | FR
The Crowing Clocks (Kokrhací hodiny) Portál 2012
Love, Quietness and Betrayal (O lásce, tichu i zradě) Academia 2012
How not to Become a Murderer (Jak se nestát vrahem) Academia 2012
How Far the Sun Is (Jak daleko je slunce) Portál 2011
My Merry Mornings (Má veselá jitra) Academia 2011
A Summer Affair (Milostné léto) Academia 2011 DE | FR
My First Loves (Moje první lásky) Academia 2010 EN
My Mad Century II. (Moje šílené století II.) Academia 2010
My Mad Century (Moje šílené století) Academia 2009 EN  2010 Magnesia Litera – Non-fiction
Darling Rattlesnakes and Other Feminine Horors (Miláčkové chřestýši a jiné ženské horory) Academia 2007
The Skeleton Under the Carpet (Kostlivec pod kobercem) Academia 2005
My Dangerous Trips (Moje nebezpečné výlety) Academia 2004 RU
The Prime Minister and the Angel (Premiér a anděl) Academia 2003 PL
Judge on Trial (Soudce z milosti) Academia 2002 EN
My Merry Mornings (Má veselá jitra) Academia 2002
Three Voices (Tři hlasy) Doplněk 2001
How to Survive Prosperity (Jak přežít blahobyt) Doplněk 2001
A Great Age Also Needs Great Murders (Velký věk chce mít též velké mordy) Academia 2001
No Saints or Angels (Ani svatí, ani andělé) Hynek 1999 PL | EN
About the Boy Who Did Not Become a Number (O chlapci, který se nestal číslem) Židovské muzeum 1998
The Circle of Enemies of the Czech Language (Kruh nepřátel českého jazyka) Hynek 1998
The Ultimate Intimacy (Poslední stupeň důvěrnosti) Hynek 1996 EN
How Far the Sun Is (Jak daleko je slunce) Hynek 1995
Love and Crafts (Lásky a řemesla Ivana Klímy: Rozhovor Miloše Čermáka se spisovatelem Ivanem Klímou) Academia 1995
Love Talks (Milostné rozhovory) Hynek 1995 DE
Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light (Čekání na tmu, čekání na světlo) Český spisovatel 1993 DE | EN
A Summer Affair (Milostné léto) Práce 1992 DE | FR
The Isle of the Dead Kings (Ostrov mrtvých králů) Rozmluvy 1992
Judge on Trial (Soudce z milosti) Rozmluvy 1991 EN
The Sword is Approaching (Už se blíží meče) Rozmluvy 1991
My Merry Mornings (Má veselá jitra) Academia 1990
My Golden Trades (Moje zlatá řemesla) Atlantis 1990 EN
The Prime Minister and the Angel (Ministr a anděl) Dilia 1990
Margaret´s Managerie (Markétin zvěřinec) Albatros 1990
Love and Garbage (Láska a smetí) Rozmluvy 1988 ES | EN | FR
Judge on Trial (Soudce z milosti) Rozmluvy 1986 EN
My Merry Mornings (Má veselá jitra) Rozmluvy 1985
My First Loves (Moje první lásky) 68 Publishers 1985 EN
A Summer Affair (Milostné léto) 68 Publishers 1979 DE | FR
My Merry Mornings (Má veselá jitra) 68 Publishers 1979
Lovers for One Day (Milenci na jeden den) Československý spisovatel 1970 NL | FR | EN
A Ship Named Hope (Loď jménem Naděje) Československý spisovatel 1969
The Crowing Clocks (Kokrhací hodiny a jiné příběhy z Vlašských Klobúk a podobných Tramtárií) SNDK 1965
Visit to My Immortal Aunt (Návštěva u nesmrtelné tetky: Polské zápisky) Mladá fronta 1965
Lovers for One Night (Milenci na jednu noc) Československý spisovatel 1964 FR
The Quiet Hour (Hodina ticha) Československý spisovatel 1963 DE
Karel Čapek (Karel Čapek) Československý spisovatel 1962 EN
A Perfect Day (Bezvadný den) Mladá fronta 1960
Among the Three Borders (Mezi třemi hranicemi) Československý spisovatel 1960
Láska a smetí
Love and Garbage
Láska a smetí
The Crowing Clocks
Kokrhací hodiny
Love, Quietness and Betrayal
O lásce, tichu i zradě
Jak se nestát vrahem
How not to Become a Murderer
Jak se nestát vrahem
Jak daleko je slunce
How Far the Sun Is
Jak daleko je slunce
Má veselá jitra
My Merry Mornings
Má veselá jitra
Milostné léto
A Summer Affair
Milostné léto
Moje první lásky
My First Loves
Moje první lásky
My Mad Century II.
Moje šílené století II.
Moje šílené století
My Mad Century
Moje šílené století
Miláčkové chřestýši a jiné ženské horory
Darling Rattlesnakes and Other Feminine Horors
Miláčkové chřestýši a jiné ženské horory
Kostlivec pod kobercem
The Skeleton Under the Carpet
Kostlivec pod kobercem
Moje nebezpečné výlety
My Dangerous Trips
Moje nebezpečné výlety
Premiér a anděl
The Prime Minister and the Angel
Premiér a anděl
Soudce z milosti
Judge on Trial
Soudce z milosti
Má veselá jitra
My Merry Mornings
Má veselá jitra
Tři hlasy
Three Voices
Tři hlasy
Jak přežít blahobyt
How to Survive Prosperity
Jak přežít blahobyt
Velký věk chce mít též velké mordy
A Great Age Also Needs Great Murders
Velký věk chce mít též velké mordy
Ani svatí, ani andělé
No Saints or Angels
Ani svatí, ani andělé
O chlapci, který se nestal číslem
About the Boy Who Did Not Become a Number
O chlapci, který se nestal číslem
Kruh nepřátel českého jazyka
The Circle of Enemies of the Czech Language
Kruh nepřátel českého jazyka
Poslední stupeň důvěrnosti
The Ultimate Intimacy
Poslední stupeň důvěrnosti
Jak daleko je slunce
How Far the Sun Is
Jak daleko je slunce
Lásky a řemesla Ivana Klímy: Rozhovor Miloše Čermáka se spisovatelem Ivanem Klímou
Love and Crafts
Lásky a řemesla Ivana Klímy: Rozhovor Miloše Čermáka se spisovatelem Ivanem Klímou
Milostné rozhovory
Love Talks
Milostné rozhovory
Čekání na tmu, čekání na světlo
Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light
Čekání na tmu, čekání na světlo
Milostné léto
A Summer Affair
Milostné léto
Ostrov mrtvých králů
The Isle of the Dead Kings
Ostrov mrtvých králů
Soudce z milosti
Judge on Trial
Soudce z milosti
Už se blíží meče
The Sword is Approaching
Už se blíží meče
Má veselá jitra
My Merry Mornings
Má veselá jitra
Moje zlatá řemesla
My Golden Trades
Moje zlatá řemesla
Ministr a anděl
The Prime Minister and the Angel
Ministr a anděl
Markétin zvěřinec
Margaret´s Managerie
Markétin zvěřinec
Láska a smetí
Love and Garbage
Láska a smetí
Soudce z milosti
Judge on Trial
Soudce z milosti
Má veselá jitra
My Merry Mornings
Má veselá jitra
Moje první lásky
My First Loves
Moje první lásky
Milostné léto
A Summer Affair
Milostné léto
Má veselá jitra
My Merry Mornings
Má veselá jitra
Milenci na jeden den
Lovers for One Day
Milenci na jeden den
Loď jménem Naděje
A Ship Named Hope
Loď jménem Naděje
Kokrhací hodiny a jiné příběhy z Vlašských Klobúk a podobných Tramtárií
The Crowing Clocks
Kokrhací hodiny a jiné příběhy z Vlašských Klobúk a podobných Tramtárií
Návštěva u nesmrtelné tetky: Polské zápisky
Visit to My Immortal Aunt
Návštěva u nesmrtelné tetky: Polské zápisky
Milenci na jednu noc
Lovers for One Night
Milenci na jednu noc
Hodina ticha
The Quiet Hour
Hodina ticha
Karel Čapek
Karel Čapek
Karel Čapek
Bezvadný den
A Perfect Day
Bezvadný den
Mezi třemi hranicemi
Among the Three Borders
Mezi třemi hranicemi
Award Year Country
Karel Čapek Prize 2010 Česká republika
Magnesia Litera – Non-fiction 2010 Česká republika
Franz Kafka Prize 2002 Česká republika
Praise
The writer Ivan Klíma (1931) has written and recently published the first volume of his memoirs, which he called My Mad Century. None of the aforementioned pigeonholes apply to it – it is a very successful memoir, which could serve as a useful guide to the 20th century for the younger generation in particular.
—Erik Tabery
Respekt

Klíma’s family (his father was a respected inventor and expert on high-voltage motors) was interned with their children in the Terezín Ghetto because of their Jewish origins. After the war he studied at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts, he worked for magazines and at the Československý spisovatel publishing house, he wrote articles for Literární noviny (Literary News) and Lidové noviny (People’s News). He joined the Communist Party in 1953 and was then thrown out of it in 1968 because of his opposition to the Soviet occupation. He went to the United States to lecture in 1969 but returned a year later as a banned writer. He worked as a labourer and a watchman and his books were published only in samizdat form or by exile publishers.

Whilst Klíma concentrated mainly on writing fiction between the 1960s and the 1980s, since 2000 he has been more of an essayist and journalist. His highly acclaimed two-part autobiography, Moje šílené století (My Crazy Century, Academia, 2009 and 2010), not only describes his own life, but also the fundamental historical events of the “crazy” 20th century.

He made his literary debut with the collection of short stories Bezvadný den (A Perfect Day, Mladá fronta, 1960). His first novel, Hodina ticha (The Quiet Hour, Československý spisovatel, 1963) came out at the same time as Kundera’s Směšné lásky (Laughable Loves) and Ladislav Fuks’s Pan Theodor Mundstock (Mr Theodor Mundstock), and is sometimes compared to Sekyra (The Axe) by Ludvík Vaculík. It is a philosophical novel from Slovakia’s poor eastern region, where agricultural production was collectivized. This was followed by Milenci na jednu noc (Lovers for One Night, Československý spisovatel, 1964), a book made up of three short stories about love and thematically similar to Milenci na jeden den (Lovers for One Day, Československý spisovatel, 1970).

Klíma’s outstanding work from this period was Soudce z milosti (Judge on Trial) which was originally entitled Stojí, stojí šibenička (There Stands a Little Gallows). The novel was first published in German in 1979 by the Swiss publishers Bücher, entitled Der Gnadenrichtera, and after a further ten years’ work was finally published in Czech as Soudce z milosti (literally A Judge of Mercy) (Rozmluvy, 1986). The judge, Adam Kindl, is a multifaceted character who has to deal with a fundamental issue – how does a man who disagrees with the death penalty behave in a society whose judicial system uses it? But it is much more than just this theme; as a judge Kindl deflects the moral attacks of the zealous Bolsheviks, and when portraying his life Klíma describes both the events of the Second World War (including autobiographical memories of Terezín) and the rise of the Communists to power, the occupation by “friendly” troops and the following period of Normalization.

Klíma’s most successful novel is Láska a smetí (Love and Garbage, samizdat, 1987) about a road sweeper’s relationship with his young lover, but also about Franz Kafka’s unfulfilled paternal love. The book has been reprinted many times in more than twenty languages including Finnish, Albanian, Korean, Hebrew, Japanese as well as English and German.

Klíma has also written plays, children’s books and numerous essay collections, the list of which runs to more than thirty books. He wrote a biography of Karel Čapek called Velký věk chce mít též velké mordy (A Great Age Also Needs Great Murders, Academia, 2001).

In 2009 and 2010 he published his two-part chronicle of the 20th century called Moje šílené století (My Crazy Century, Academia, 2009 and 2010), for which he was awarded the Magnesia Litera in the category of factual literature. The writer Markéta Hejkalová wrote of the book that, “I discovered many new things about that period that I had no idea about, but the most important thing was that I read a fascinating story about kind and polite people during a period which not even the greatest optimist could have described as kind and polite.”

Klíma is active in the Czech PEN Club and was its chairperson from 1990 to 1992.

Notable awards
 2010 Karel Čapek Prize
 2010 Magnesia Litera – Non-fiction
 2002 Franz Kafka Prize
Contacts
E: iklima@volny.cz