A Summer Affair

A Summer Affair - Ewald Osers I discovered Klíma by accident. No one I know has ever mentioned his name to me. His books tend not to be in the stores of English retailers. And then I found a couple of his novels in a second hand bookstore. That name piqued my interest. One of the two turned out to be the excellent 'Love and Garbage'. I became a convert. A few years later, I found 'A Summer Affair' in a similar store...

This novel is tautly written and compels the reader ineluctably toward its tragic conclusion. I can imagine some readers disliking the book because they disapprove of/cannot identify with the protagonist. That's to miss the point, I feel. In the grand tradition of 'Lear', it's about folly and obsession and losing everything. We're not meant to admire David as he destroys his family, himself and his lover. The twist at the end would have more impact if Klíma hadn't botched it by signposting it too obviously, but it's still powerful.

Beyond the beautifully spare prose, there are some other nice touches. I found the switching at key moments between omniscient third person narrator and first person narrative highly effective. The characters of the two lovers were believable too. If you enjoy reading about the interplay between human relations and philosophy - the Kundera parallels become unavoidable here - then this book may be for you.