Life Is Elsewhere – Book Review: A Novel by Czech Writer Milan Kundera

A budding poet and his mother are the central character’s of this brilliant book by Milan Kundera. It gives an incredibly candid account of the neurosis that many will have gone through in their adolescence and eventually in their adulthood. Kundera’s insight is both sad and funny but is always gripping.

Plot Summary: Life Is Elsewhere

Set in the author’s home country of the Czech Republic, this book follows the life of a poet from his accidental conception to his sudden death. The poet soon becomes the centre of his mother’s life as her marriage falls apart. No sooner can Jaromil write, than has his mother declares him a poet. As he grows up he tries to live up to the expectations of greatness his mother has bestowed upon him, before trying to rebel against her overbearing love.

Despite his best efforts to forge himself a life free from his mother’s ever watchful eye he can never escape her influence. He becomes a fervent follower of the communist party as a way of carving his own identity. His attempts prove futile as his mother retains her hold on all areas of his life, from his work to the clothes he wears and even the women he loves.

Themes in Life Is Elsewhere

Like many of Milan Kundera’s books, Life is Elsewhere, written in 1973, has several typically existentialist themes. He examines an individual’s search for meaning in their life amid the absurdity, alienation, boredom and angst it often brings. While Kundera deals with issues most people grapple with at some point in their lives, he does so with a refreshing and candid originality.

The book’s narrative begins before the second world war and ends as the Czech’s communist revolution gathers pace. The rise of socialism soon becomes central …

Book Review – The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: Pulitzer Prize Novel by Junot Diaz

With exceptional praise for his Pulitzer Prize novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, it goes to show Junot Diaz doesn’t play around when it comes to writing great fiction. As a Dominican-American writer and professor at MIT, Diaz tends to work with the duality of the immigrant experience, and in this novel he undergoes the grandiose task of recording the saga of an immigrant family.

Introducing Oscar

Meet Oscar, a dungeons and dragons geek who is constantly falling in love. He’s an overweight ghetto nerd, kind and sweet but without any game. With his love for role playing games and his sci-fi antics, life is worse than pathetic. Two things are on Oscar’s mind: writing that Tolkien masterpiece and falling in love. But love isn’t a game and with his fear of dying a virgin clawing him inwardly, Oscar’s wooing gets over the top. He attacks girls with his no-end, no charm, and no-game approach, and eventually his overwhelming tactics scares off the ladies.

But what can you say. Oscar’s not the kind of guy to give up, but when things never work out for you, what kind of tragedy is that? Blame the fuku—a curse that has been haunting Oscar’s family for generations. And this curse doesn’t play around. It’s been around for generations, following Oscar’s family from the Dominican Republic and to the United States. Like Oscar, this curse just won’t give up.

Meet Yunior

Told in the point of view of Yunior, a creative writing student, who had to tough it out one semester as Oscar’s college roommate. Completely infatuated with Lola, Oscar’s over-the-top sister, Yunior missed his one chance with the love of his life and is trying to make up for the lost time.

Yet when he finds out how deeply nerdy …