We are pleased to announce two new May releases from NYRB Classics: Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age, Bohumil Hrabal’s stunning confessional novel and the first work from a Czech writer to be included in the NYRB Classics series; and Gillian Rose’s Love’s Work, a sharp and touching meditation inspired by the beloved author’s confrontation with cancer and the questions of how to overcome despair in the face of loss.By Bohumil Hrabal
Introduction by Adam Thirlwell
Translated from the Czech by Michael Henry Heim
Bohumil Hrabal’s Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age is an ebullient, gallivanting novel that encapsulates the world vision of one of the Czech Republic’s best-loved authors.
Rake, drunkard, aesthete, gossip, raconteur extraordinaire: the narrator of Bohumil Hrabal’s rambling, rambunctious masterpiece is all these and more. Speaking one day to a group of sunbathing women who remind him of lovers past, this elderly roué proceeds to tell the story of his life—or at least to unburden himself of a lifetime’s worth of stories. Thus we learn of amatory conquests (and humiliations), of scandals both private and public, of military adventures and domestic feuds, of what things were like “in the days of the monarchy” and how they’ve changed since.
As the book tumbles restlessly forward, and the comic tone takes on darker shadings, we realize we are listening to a man talking as much out of desperation as from exuberance. Part drunken boast, part soul-rending confession, part metaphysical poem on the nature of love and time, Dancing Lessons (which unfolds in a single monumental sentence) shows why Milan Kundera, John Banville, and Louise Erdrich were admirers of Hrabal’s work.By Gillian Rose
Introduction by Michael Wood
Equal parts memoir and work of philosophy, Love’s Work is a stunning and inspiring book written by the late, beloved professor and philosopher Gillian Rose when she was dying of cancer. Through unforgettable anecdotes and musings, Rose shares her “life affair” with love, and the struggle for love, in all its forms.
In this book, Rose looks back on her childhood, the complications of her parents’ divorce, her dyslexia, and her deep and divided feelings about what it means to be Jewish. She tells the stories of several friends also laboring under the sentence of death. From the sometimes conflicting vantage points of her own and her friends’ tales, she seeks to work out a distinctive outlook on life, one that will do justice to our yearning both for autonomy and for connection to others.
Love’s Work is a beautiful, tender, tough, and intricately wrought survival kit packed with necessary but unanswerable questions.
The NYRB Classics edition includes Geoffrey Hill’s poem, “In Memoriam: Gillian Rose.”
May 10, 2011, 10:10 a.m.