Winner, 1998 PEN Center USA West Award for Translation
Josef Hirsal's experimental novel is a Dada-like romp through the life of a young man born into a Bohemian peasant family. Told in five parts, A Bohemian Youth begins with a word to the wise, moves on to the text, continues with notes and with notes to the note, and ends with a note on the notes to the notes.
More than just a tongue-in-cheek parody of a literary memoir, A Bohemian Youth is a glimpse of the First Czechoslovak Republic as seen through the eyes of a young peasant from the provinces. Abounding in intimate details--the manners of a servant girl, the habits of the town homosexual, the sounds of popular music; the way people eat in wartime--Hirsal's novel is a wrenching and hilarious tale of a young man's emotional and sexual awakening.