Prague, 3 December 2019 (dpa/MIA) – Milan Kundera, the Czech novelist known for works including “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” has been given back his Czech citizenship 40 years after it was withdrawn under Socialist rule.
The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, as the country was known at the time, had withdrawn Kundera’s citizenship after the 1979 publication of “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting,” a novel that features Czechoslovak citizens opposing the government.
Kundera, who lives in Paris and had become a French national, now holds both citizenships.
Petr Drulak, the Czech ambassador to France, told the newspaper Pravo that he had handed Kundera his citizenship last Thursday in the novelist’s home.
The novelist was delighted, Drulak said, adding that Kundera had “a very strong sense of Czech identity.”
The idea of returning his citizenship came from Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who had met Kundera in Paris last year.
In a rare interview, Kundera’s wife told a Czech literature magazine Host how much she missed her home country and dreamed of it at night.
She had not thought it would be possible to return, after an article published in 2008 by Respekt, a student magazine, charged that Kundera had collaborated with the Communist secret services and had betrayed an agent from the west. He denied the accusations.
Kundera is now 90 years old and his relationship with the Czech Republic remains fraught and many of his novels still have not appeared in his native language.