Slowness by Milan Kundera

This isn’t:

Just no.

It’s more like:


I’m sorry Kundera. I don’t know if we are going to meet again, but the bridge-player in me isn’t liking the odds.

I wrote that in June, and put the book on the hall table ready to give to my local secondhand bookshop. I know, I felt sort of bad about that. It’s a lovely bookshop and deserves better.

My mother at the age of 81 is an entirely voracious reader. In the nicest possible way she resented every moment of her life she spent raising four children whilst working fulltime and all the rest of it. So much time that would best have been spent reading. Her eagle eye spotted the book and despite everything I said about it she took it home with her.

Today, three months later, I call my mother from the other side of the world. I can feel she is just being polite as I conscientiously try to entertain her with my story of how it is Day of Fasting on Prune Tart holiday here in Geneva. It’s about 10pm where she is. ‘You want to get back to your book, don’t you?’ I say to her slightly accusingly, like a dutiful daughter who is being subtly told they aren’t wanted. ‘Err, yes’ she replies, sounding slightly guilty about it, I thought. Or perhaps hoped. ‘What are you reading then?’ I continue. ‘Well, you remember that book in the hallway,  you were going to give it to East Ave Books?’, she began.

Oh the shame of it. Dumped in the middle of a phone call for Slowness. Mothers.

8 thoughts on “Slowness by Milan Kundera

  1. The only comparable thing I can come up with would be having your brother quit politics because he can’t reconcile duty to country with duty to family. Call Boris Johnson, he’ll understand.

  2. Haha! I’m totally #TeamMum. Well, I haven’t read Slowness, but I love Kundera – though he is certainly an acquired taste. I first read him at my book group (Immortality) and loved it, and everyone else hated it.

    • He’s one of those writers where you feel like it must be your fault, of course. I guess I’ll have to try another some time.

  3. I wrote a comment yesterday, but I don’t see it.

    I said how Kundera was so popular in Madrid when I was young. I never got to read any of his books. If he’s like Simon says an acquired taste, he will also fit the profile of those authors that make us feel it’s our fault we don’t get. I’m curious now, specially about his titles. Slowness may be a book for those at a slow pace time in their life, what do I know?, really nothing.

    I also asked if you wanted to write a bit about that Day of Fasting on Prune Tart holiday. Or anything. I am becoming addicted to your tone and style.

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