Michal Viewegh

Bliss was it in Bohemia

Báječná léta pod psa
Báječná léta pod psa
Československý spisovatel, 1992
Language: Czech
Genre: Prose
Read an excerpt
 1993 Jiří Orten Award
W: http://www.viewegh.cz

A wildly comic story about the fate of one ordinary Czech family over the course of 20 years, from the 1960’s. At turns humorous, ironic and sentimental, an engaging portrait of their attempts to flee from history (meaning socialism) – or at least to ignore it as long as possible.

The author depicts with humorous hyperbole his parents’ life stories and also his own years of adolescence. A bitter comedy about the life of a peculiar Czech family deals with rather an attractive theme: the grey years of socialism are for numerous eyewitnesses also the happy years of their youth. The story focuses on the difficulties of a father, an eccentric workaholic with a university degree, whose efforts to protect his family without losing his own dignity leads to the threshold of insanity. In the course of the same period, the extraordinarily gifted Kvido lives out his own troubles as a writer of fiction.

Over 120,000 copies sold.


“[…] arguably one of the best satirical novels on the transition from totalitarianism to self-regulation, written in the spirit of Viewegh’s great compatriot Jaroslav Hašek’s The Good Soldier Švejk […]. Transcending their respective historical circumstances, both texts act as general-purpose antidotes to highly stressful and frustrating situations, instructing us on how to part with our past cheerfully.”

— Andrei Rogatchevski, Los Angeles Review of Books

“With a unique juxtaposition of comedy and chaos, the author reflects the complexity of human emotional responses, telling stories both of universal human experience and particular historical significance.”

World Literature Today

“[…] much of the novel is indeed very funny – Viewegh demonstrating a fine comic style, a natural sort of touch for this kind of thing, that doesn’t make it seem like he’s trying too hard.”

— M.A.Orthofer, The Complete Review

“Viewegh’s prose is outstandingly refreshing reading, reacting to the world of recent Czech history with an appealing and sometimes bizarre charm, caricatured noblesse and a lot of wit. The depictions of historical tragedies as well as the numbness and stultifying routine of the everyday are sketched very lightly, showing the other side of this world’s seemingly perfect and ‘wonderful’ atmosphere.”

— Vladimír Novotný, MF Dnes

Selected published translations (5)

Blendende Jahre für Hunde German

Quei favolosi anni da cane Italian

Лучшие годы - псу под хвост. Летописцы отцовской любви Russian

Cudowne lata pod psem Polish

Bliss was it in Bohemia English

Language: Czech
Title: Báječná léta pod psa
Publisher: Československý spisovatel
Year: 1992
Genre: Prose
 1993 Jiří Orten Award