Sparkling with comic genius and narrative exuberance, I Served the King of England is a story of how the unbelievable came true. Its remarkable hero, Ditie, is a hotel waiter who rises to become a millionaire and then loses it all again against the backdrop of events in Prague from the German invasion to the victory of Communism. Ditie's fantastic journey intertwines the political and the personal in a narrative that both enlightens and entertains.
The fantasising and storytelling deliver a body blow of total irreverence to the solemn mythopoeia of monumental historiography ― Times Literary Supplement
Hrabal bounces and floats. His mode is a sort of dancing realism, somewhere between fairytale and satire.He is a most sophisticated novelist, with a gusting humour and a hushed tenderness of detail. We should read him -- Julian Barnes
Well worth reading ― The Book Magazine
A master of rueful comedy and tender eroticism, Hrabal was, for all his eccentricity, a major figure in 20th-century world literature. -- Jonathan Coe
About the Author
Bohumil Hrabal was born in 1914 in Brno-Zidenice, Moravia. He received a degree in Law from Prague's Charles University, and lived in Prague since the late 1940s. In the 1950s he worked as a manual laborer in the Kladno ironworks, from which he drew inspiration for his "hyper-realist" texts he was writing at that time. He won international acclaim for such books as I Served the King of England and Too Loud a Solitude. Hrabal is considered, along with Jaroslav Hasek and Karel Capek, as one of the greatest Czech writers of the 20th century, and perhaps the most important in the post-war period. In February 1997 he flew out of his hospital window never to return.
Adam Thirlwell is the author of two novels, Politics and The Escape;a novella, Kapow!; and a project including an essay-book – which won a Somerset Maugham Award – and a compendium of translations edited for McSweeney’s. His work is translated into thirty languages. He has twice been selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists.