Ceska posta issued a stamp to celebrate the 100th anniversary from the birth of Bohumil Hrabal.
Bohumil Hrabal (born Bohumil Frantisek Kylian on 28 March 1914 in Brno), was a Czech prose writer, one of the greatest and most original writers of the second half of the 20th century. He became the most translated Czech author of the 20th century.
He was born in Brno-Zidenice to a single mother, Mary Kylianova, and an officer in the Austrian army Bohumil Blecha, who, however, denied his fatherhood, so the child was baptized Bohumil Frantisek. He received the name Bohumil Hrabal after his stepfather, whom his mother later married.
After graduating from secondary school, which he finished with difficulties, having failed several times, Hrabal studied at the Faculty of Law of Charles University in Prague, but also attended lectures on the history of literature, art and philosophy. Due to the closure of universities during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia he was not able to complete his studies until 1946.
He became a professional writer as late as 1963. In 1965, he became a member of the Union of Czechoslovak Writers and worked on the editorial board of Literarni noviny (Literary News). After 1970, he could not officially publish for several years and his works were published in samizdat periodicals and exile publishing houses. In 1975, he published a short self-critical statement in the weekly Tvorba (Creation) on the basis of which he was partially, under the supervision of authorities, allowed to publish again.
Many of his works were published by the samizdat publisher Prazska imaginace (Prague Imagination) from 1985 and the same publishing house, becoming official after 1989, prepared, in the years 1991–1997 Sebrane spisy Bohumila Hrabala (The Collected Writings of Bohumil Hrabal) in 19 volumes, edited by Vaclav Kadlec.
Many of Hrabal's books were successfully adapted for screen and the 1966 adaptation of Ostre sledovanevlaky (Closely Watched Trains), directed by Jiri Menzel, received the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. In 1968, both Hrabal and Menzel received for the film the official Klement Gottwald National Award as well. Along with Ludvik Vaculik, Karel Pecka, Jan Kamenicek, Libuse Monikova and others, Hrabal is, especially for his Prilis hlucna samota (Too Loud a Solitude), considered to be a successor to Franz Kafka.
He received numerous literary awards for his works. For example, his novel Prilis hlucna samota won an Italian literary prize, Premio Elba, the Hungarian Istvan Bethlen Prize and the George Theiner Award; the novel Obsluhoval jsem anglickeho krale (I Served the King of England) won the National Prize of the Czech Republic and the French distinction Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of Arts and Literature); and his trilogy Svatby v dome (Weddings in the House), Vita nuova (New Life) and Proluky (Vacant Lots) won the Jaroslav Seifert Prize. In 1989, he was awarded the title Merited Artist and on 9 May 1996 he received an honorary doctoral degree at the University of Padua. That same year he won the Vaclav Havel Medal "For Merit".
He died on 3 February 1997 in Prague, falling to death from a window on the fifth floor of the orthopedic clinic of the hospital where he was being treated.