Wendy Law-Yone: Too Loud a Solitude

Wendy Law-Yone is the critically acclaimed Burmese-born American author of A Daughter’s Memoir of Burma (2014), Golden Parasol (2013), and more.

I can’t think of a book I’d rather recommend for Give a Book readers than the great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal’s Too Loud a Solitude.

‘For thirty-five years now I’ve been in wastepaper, and it’s my love story,’ begins this wonderful little novel about the preservation of literature in a murderously hostile world. The hero is a wastepaper compactor who spends his largely subterranean life guzzling beer while tending the unstoppable flow of printed matter bound for destruction in his underground hydraulic press.

‘How much more beautiful it must have been,’ he muses, ‘in the days when the only place a thought could make its mark was the human brain and anyone who wanted to squelch ideas had to compact human heads, but even that wouldn’t have helped because real thoughts come from outside and travel with us like the noodle soup we take to work; in other words, inquisitors burn books in vain.’

The love story touted in the opening line is not the only one that will delight readers of this small masterpiece of passion and humour triumphant. As our hero so wisely opines, ‘If a book has anything to say, it burns with a quiet laugh.’

This one certainly does.

Thank you to Wendy for her wonderfully thoughtful choice.