"A young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing; one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover --these are the two couples whose story is told in this masterful novel, Kundera's first since The book of laughter and forgetting. In a world in which lives are shaped by irrevocable choices and by fortuitous events, a world in which everything occurs but once, existence seems to lose its substance, its weight. Hence, we feel 'the unbearable lightness of being' not only as the consequence of our private actions, but also in the public sphere, and the two inevitably intertwine."

That's the blurb on the backcover of my copy of Kundera's masterpiece, which I have just finished reading. It was published in 1984 and someone gave it to me recently. There is no doubt this is a great novel, and the promotional text is accurate enough. But there is more to say about the book.

When reading this novel, I felt as if I was reading Houellebecq --both authors have this way to coldly dissect their characters to see their motivations, to shed on them an intense and heartless light; you wouldn't think they loved their characters or cared for them, except that sometimes, right after emphasizing their fictional condition, Kundera turns to them as if they really existed, which is weirdly comforting.

Just as a Houellebecq volume, The unbearable lightness of being tends to be boring, but it's always insightful, and I found myself reading it as if I were reading a soul, full of useless minutiae but also of revelations about the human condition (I know the phrase sounds cliché, but this book is thirty years old, and back then novelists pursued this kind of thing instead of just adopting the pose; Kundera also actually achieves it).

I recommend this book to everyone, with the advice that you don't stop reading just because it's slow. This is the kind of book that reclaims your attention and patience. And it gives you a lot in return.