Tablet reached the home of Milan Kundera, the great Czech novelist and friend of Philip Roth, in Paris. Kundera wasn’t feeling well.
After a formative visit to Eastern Europe in 1972, Roth came to champion a group of writers, including Kundera, who became known as “Writers from the Other Europe,” the name of the series of novels Roth shepherded into print in America through the 1980s. Through these publications, English-language audiences were introduced to the work of Kundera, Bruno Schulz, Tadeusz Borowski, Daniol Kiš, Joseph Brodsky, Bohumil Hrabal, and György Konrád, among other writers working under the tyranny of Soviet occupation.
Above all, Kundera and Roth’s was a friendship between two great novelists, one of whom understood love and the other who understood anxiety, and both of whom were extremely funny on the page.
Vera Kundera, Milan’s wife, had one comment she wanted everyone to hear: “Those cretins in Stockholm never gave him his prize,” she said, adding, “those cretins.”
Philip Roth died last night at age 85.