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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Milan Kundera's novel Ignorance explores a scenario close to his heart -- lovers who are swept away (and apart) by fate. It also shows why Kundera is one of the most distinctive talents working today. Like his earlier work, this novel is a delicious combination of eroticism and ephemeral themes, which meld into a powerful, moving tale.
Not surprisingly, fate's agent here is the 1968 Soviet invasion of Kundera's native Czechoslovakia. The book's protagonists, Josef and Irena, both fled after the crushing of the Prague Spring, only to return in the 1990s -- with much trepidation -- after the end of communist rule. What they find is a no-longer-familiar landscape, distant friends, and, briefly, solace in each other's arms. All of these notions will be familiar to fans of Kundera, whose previous works include The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Life Is Elsewhere, and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. The author, who was himself forced into exile in 1968, has spent the better part of his writing career retracing his footsteps -- a forgivable compulsion, since it has produced some fascinating work. Granted, in Ignorance this theme appears a bit shopworn, given the passage of a decade since the demise of communism in eastern Europe. And linguistically, the story comes to us third-hand; Kundera originally wrote the tale in French, which was then translated into economical English by Linda Asher. But what we get is another entertaining, quick read. Sam Stall