Closely Watched Trains by Bohumil Hrabal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bohumil Hrabel weaves a WWII-set bildungsroman that deftly moves between youthful melancholy and outlandish farce sometimes in the same moment. It's a dreamy, introverted book in many ways, just like its protagonist, yet it never shies away from addressing the politics and humanism that were constantly at stake in occupied Europe. While it never addresses the Holocaust directly, it's treatment of that incomprehensible level of brutality is unmistakable and very powerful in the book's more allegorical passages. Apparently, there's an excellent movie based on this book that I'll have to see someday.