“Working Knowledge” by Petr Král

working knowledge petr kralOne of the most difficult books I have ever had to translate – yet on the face of it, one of the simplest. Král, a Czech poet and writer living in France (and now writing in French), has put together a series of aperçus – short pieces on a variety of ordinary objects, things and activities, sometimes running to a single sentence, sometimes to three or four pages. But it is precisely the spare, succinct language, the allusive images, the rich resonant prose that made every word, every sentence a labour (of love, yes, but also of blood, toil, tears and sweat.)

Praise for “Working Knowledge”

“This strange and beautiful existential encyclopaedia of the everyday is a lesson in modesty inflicted upon our sense of self”
Milan Kundera

“Taking on nearly anything that pertains to our daily experience, Kral’s elegant and incisive meditations vary in length from a couple of pages to a mere sentence (…..) Intimate with French life yet also at one remove from it because of his background, Kral hints at the metaphysical ramifications of whatever he comes across.”
John Taylor, Times Literary Supplement

“(W)ith Král’s virtuosic ability to get at the meat of a thing, his utter focus, his venerable voice, we’re treated to a sober and bittersweet and painfully observant volume that crystallizes for us an experience of life far different than our own. (…) This is a book about a person with himself and the things, the trappings of life: the Jerusalem artichoke in the kitchen at night or a trip to a public toilet. This is a quiet book, not one to be read all at once.”
Jeff Waxman, Review of Contemporary Fiction

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