Milan Kundera was a Czech writer, best known for his novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Prior to the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the communist régime in Czechoslovakia banned his books. He went into exile in France in 1975, becoming a naturalised French citizen in 1981. Kundera’s Czechoslovak citizenship was revoked in 1979 and he received his Czech citizenship in 2019.

He reportedly saw himself as a French writer and insisted his work should be studied as French literature and classified as such in book stores. He was awarded the 1985 Jerusalem Prize, the 1987 Austrian State Prize for European Literature and the 2000 Herder Prize. In 2021 he received the Golden Order of Merit from the president of Slovenia, Borut Pahor.

He was shortlisted, for his entire body of work, for The Man Booker International Prize 2005.

Milan Kundera


Between 2005 - 2015, the Man Booker International Prize recognised one writer for their achievement in fiction.

Worth £60,000, the prize was awarded every two years to a living author who had published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.

The winner was chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel and there were no submissions from publishers.

The Man Booker International Prize was different from the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction in that it highlighted one writer’s overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. In focusing on overall literary excellence, the judges considered a writer’s body of work rather than a single novel.