He passed away today, in Germany. He was 72. I don’t know much about him. But I really enjoyed his novel The Questionnaire; Dalkey reprinted an English translation of it in 2000 and I read it upon arriving at ISU:
Originally circulated in Czechoslovakia in an underground edition of nineteen typewritten copies (which landed the author in jail for “initiating disorder”), The Questionnaire is Jirí Grusa’s internationally acclaimed masterpiece.
In completing a standard employment questionnaire, narrator Jan Kepka manages to write a beautifully impressionistic history of his life, his family, and his hometown as he obeys—with mock solemnity—the handwritten command on top of the form: “DO NOT CROSS OUT.”
Here’s a link to it at Google Books. And here’s an interview with him, conducted by my friend and former Dalkey workmate Ana Lucic. In that interview, Gruša mentions some of his other books, and that he planned to write a few more. I don’t know if he ever did. The other books, to my knowledge, haven’t been translated. But The Questionnaire, that’s a good one.
Godspeed, you Czech Emperor.