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The Festival of Insignificance

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  13,573 ratings  ·  1,693 reviews
From the internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, an unexpected and enchanting novel—the culmination of his life's work.

Casting light on the most serious of problems, and at the same time saying not one serious sentence; being fascinated by the reality of the contemporary world, and at the same time completely avoiding realism—tha
Hardcover, 115 pages
Published June 23rd 2015 by Harper (first published October 30th 2013)
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Average rating 3.33  · 
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 ·  13,573 ratings  ·  1,693 reviews

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Jul 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
“We’ve known for a long time that it was no longer possible to overturn this world, nor reshape it, nor head off its dangerous headlong rush. There’s been only one possible resistance: to not take it seriously.”
- Milan Kundera, The Festival of Insignificance


Recently, I tried to sell my wife on the idea that the key to happiness was low expectations. The less she expected of me the happier she would be. Kundera, I'm afraid, would disagree. Or at least he would want to edit my maxim. For Kundera
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a lot of Kundera in my 20s, but it has been many years since I read any of his major works. Like his other recent novels this one is a miniature - a distillation of his style that is a little cryptic but always charming and entertaining.

On the surface not much happens - a group of friends observe, analyse and converse, but some of the details are fascinating - for example the theory that Stalin renamed the Prussian capital Königsberg (Kant's city) as Kaliningrad (after one of his least d
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From what I could tell, Italian critics were not too kind to Kundera's latest novel. In a way I understand them; this is not the Kundera that wrote The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, or Immortality. This is Kundera from Ignorance and Slowness, a writer that needs to be read differently to be appreciated.

La festa dell'insignificanza is humorous and entertaining, I've read it in one rather brief sitting. However, it's not the humor that stays with you afterward
Mutasim Billah
“We’ve known for a long time that it was no longer possible to overturn this world, nor reshape it, nor head off its dangerous headlong rush. There’s been only one possible resistance: to not take it seriously.”

Milan Kundera's final (or so it appears) novel is a short tale of five friends. Each of these characters have delicately carved, yet ridiculous stories. The story of the navel: the sign of once being held at birth and to be torn apart from that bond, is frequently referred to as the c
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: public-library
Oh, dear.  This wasn't for me at all.  Let it be known that my rating does not reflect the probable brilliance of the writing.  Translated from the French, there is a distinct focus on the human navel, a fixation that transcends simple contemplation of one's belly button.  In betwixt and between the abject thrall of the navel are musings and natterings on the enigmatic quality of silence, the value of insignificance, and life being imposed upon the dying.  ...more
Philippe Malzieu

After two depressing novels, here is finally the return of the master of irony. The title announces the colour "The insignifiance fest". El Milan, as good surgeon of the customs analyzes funnily the relations between man and woman.
Kundera recover his eloquence, it is a great news.
Only one problem, it's too short 141 pages, we want more.
ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos)(RK)
I never know how to rate Kundera's books because although the writing is good, the story, if one can call it that is missing. It appears that once Kundera started writing in French, he started trying too hard.

The blurb on the backs tells us the book is funny: "Drôle de rire inspiré par notre époque qui est comique parce qu'elle a perdu tout sens de l'humour." Oui c'est vrai. Moi aussi, j'ai perdu tout sens de l'humour. At least I found nothing to laugh at here.

Apparently, the humour we are loo
Quân Khuê
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
It's the same old Kundera that we know and love: witty as ever, intellectual, or perhaps too intellectual sometimes. Though he no longer surprises us, the book is still a significant novel about the insignificance. I love many parts of it, e.g. the meditation about the navel, the part about Stalin's joke which no one understood. Actually the part about Stalin's joke is key to understand the novel in my opinion.

Just around 100 pages in English, this is a quick read, but certainly not an easy rea
Friederike Knabe
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: european-lit
With some books you have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy reading them. Milan Kundera's new short novel, The Festival of Insignificance, is for me one such example. If you have read some of his earlier writings, you will probably relate to my view. Kundera has a way of making light of heavier subjects, of having fun in depicting his characters with their foibles and by placing then in more or less likely scenarios. Events and characters of the past can seemlessly co-exist with the prese ...more
Raven Haired Girl
Jun 28, 2015 added it
Shelves: 2015
A story filled with varying degrees of humor not lacking in seriousness. I’m a huge Kundera fan finding enjoyment in all his works. I found this novella delightful.

The book centers around our existence, with time we begin to be less significant. We will fade from memories or be remembered in embellished ways by those never really knowing our intricacies.

“Insignificance, my friend, is the essence of existence,”

Kundera points out the fact insignificant things in life are the most beaut
Roger Brunyate
Apr 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Short, Surreal, Great Fun, and… Insignificant?

A brief review of a very brief book by Milan Kundera. Brief because although I enjoyed it greatly, I have absolutely no idea what it is all about. This is not at all the Kundera of The Unbearable Lightness of Being , the only other book of his that I have read. The Soviet power that in 1968 had brutally crushed the Prague Spring in that earlier novel is a thing of the past. The author has moved to Paris and become a literary boulevardier, writing
Dec 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
A typical Kundera novel with references to philosophy and history. Many of the characters have serious issues and yet they are insignificant. It is funny and tragic at the same time.
Ram Alsrougi
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
The unbearable lightness of this latest novel by Kundera in no way alters its immense depth!.
Kundera is finally realizing his old aesthetic dream; to talk about serious problems without saying a single serious sentence! This work summarizes all his thoughts and discrepancies.
Grand Kundéra, in all insignificance.
The worldview displayed here is by far too flat.
Yet, the commitment of the author is real, the issues raised, fascinating.
The keen pleasure to read Kundera is not to be dismissed, but I do not agree with him. I do not share this reassuring, consoling vision of life.

"By now, I see insignificance in an different light altogether, a brighter light, more revealing. Insignificance, my friend, is the gist of existence. It is always and everywhere with us. It is present, even where nobody wants to see
Aug 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
"We’ve known for a long time that it was no longer possible to overturn this world, nor reshape it, nor head off its dangerous headlong rush. There’s been only one possible resistance: to not take it seriously.”

In Milan Kundera's earlier works, most notably The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, laughter, lightness, and not taking the world seriously were strategies for keeping one's psychic equilibrium in the face of an oppressive Soviet regime in Kundera's
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Well, that didn't take long: probably the shortest book I will read this year. But, and this is why I give it 4 stars, probably the book that I will think about for the longest time after I have finished it. The plot, if one exists, is impossible to explain in fewer words than the book itself! And I've looked up a few reviews of the book now that I've read it and it seems that there are multiple interpretations of what it is saying. I am very impressed that such a short book can generate such a ...more
Jun 18, 2015 marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-read-soon
New Kundera what what what what???
Debbie Robson
Jun 03, 2020 rated it liked it
The Festival of Insignificance is a strange book. Yes, Kundera seems to be saying, we are all insignificant and he peoples his book with strange puppets instead of multi-dimensional characters to prove his point.
This is a short book with only seven chapters, my favourite being: Alain and Charles Often Think About Their Mothers. It contains a surprisingly powerful narrative as Alain tries to bring his mother to life in his head, pondering on some of the decisions she might have made:
“She lifts a
Personally, I thought this was superfluous and weird. But maybe I‘m just not intellectual enough...
(At least I crammed this in before bedtime and will not have to lug it to England tomorrow aka more room in my bag for a nice new book to bring back.)
Paul Fulcher
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
"He understood nothing - and to this day he understands nothing - about the value of insignificance. And that is the answer to your question about the nature of D'Ardelo's stupidity"

In 1985, in a New York Times interview, Kundera praised "humour with infinite pessimism" ( but in his latest - and one suspects likely his last - novel, he has one character quote, at the narrator's request, Hegel's statement that "true humour is inconceivable without an infin
May 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in serious comment on contemporary life and experimental fiction
Recommended to Richard by: Kundera's earlier books
First, French is not my language, but I am trying to read an occasional work in it. I had noticed the book in a pre-publication notice in LE MONDE and ordered it right away. I have finished it with delight but shall return to it later on.

The story is built around the ideas and interactions of four elderly friends in Paris and spins on the navel, Alain's obsession with this new erotic body part revealed by cropped shirts and hip-hugging pants. It is presented intricately and offers thematic consi
Oct 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Kundera proves yet again that a novel featuring almost no action but full of acute and original philosophical insights and speculations can be richer, more involving and more exciting than any normal adventure story. Kundera's style is always engrossing and clear, and his themes always disturbing and yet amusing. His most recent book is brief, just a novella really, but memorable and important (as are all his works). One of my favourite authors. ...more
Julie Rylie
Apr 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-slavic-soul
I only liked this book coz it´s Kundera and because of it I cannot simply say "it was ok". he will always win me over with his way of using words. But the plot itself it´s just meh. It has been said he wanted to write a book about "nothing", nothing in particular and actually he made it, but that doesn't mean it was worth reading.

Rihab Sebaaly
Sep 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is always a pleasure to read kundera and wander through his fantastic mind and soul...
Loved this book..

my edition
Salam Ch
I enjoyed this nonsense a lot !!!
kundera proved in this book that even if he wrote nonsense will be as good as his other books
مى حمدى
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m sorry for i can’t rate more :3
Rami Hamze
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
Absurd festival of insignificant events that represent life and its subjectivity. A man who lies to his friend that he has cancer, another pretends he is Pakistani and invents a dummy language, apologizers, and a floating feather in the room...

Very well written absurd mood, quite a messy one.

However, as this is my third book of Kundera, I don't see his brilliance. He often attempts to write about life philosophy and absurdity, which is the kind of books I like; But although some of his thoughts
Hoda Marmar
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I read it in French, then I read it in English this week. I love this edition with its lovely format and colorful cover.
Whereas I found the French (original) one more lyrical - as it is most always the case, French is more romantic and esthetic than English - , I enjoyed this one nonetheless.
I love Kundera. I enjoy all of his books. Yet, this one was quite excellent. I found sense in the midst of the insignificance he wrote about. This book is a light read compared to 'Immortality' and 'The Unbe
For most part, I puzzled over this book. On every other page, a few words shone with the brilliance of Kundera’s perceptiveness and ability to articulate the almost fragile perception. And yet, the book continued to delve into total nonsense of partridges and pisspots, which I couldn’t bring myself to like or enjoy.
The three stars are purely for those flashes of brilliance.
What I will remember it for: how a man told stories about the Mother who abandoned him, how another man pretends to be on
Mohamad Shibly
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel of insignificance, the author creates his character and plays them around in trivialities, maybe like the meaningless day to day lives we live? In this book, non sense makes so much sense, shallowness that is very deep
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2017 Reading Chal...: The festival of insignificance - Milan Kundera 1 23 Jun 09, 2016 06:05AM  

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Milan Kundera is a Czech and French writer of Czech origin who has lived in exile in France since 1975, where he became a naturalized French citizen in 1981. He is best known for The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, and The Joke.

Kundera has written in both Czech and French. He revises the French translations of all his books; these therefore are not considered tr

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