Living Parallel

by Alexandr Kliment

Translated by Robert Wechsler

Foreword by Ivan Klíma


Available free in three digital formats!


"Kliment honors the complexities of Svoboda's dilemma with poetic delicacy.
The language is gorgeous, often languid and dreamlike, yet always vivid and original."
Prague Post

"The tiny Czech Republic continues to astound the world with the quality of its literature,
and this novel, which introduces English speakers to Kliment,
is yet another example. … exquisite prose."
Library Journal

"Elegant, absorbing, and simply beautiful … [by] the aristocrat of Czech dissident literature."
—Josef Škvorecký

"In this finely wrought novel … the powerful pull of home and beauty—
in all its forms—is affirmed."
Publishers Weekly


After editing other people's translations of Czech literature for fourteen years, Catbird's publisher, Robert Wechsler, the author of Performing Without a Stage: The Art of Literary Translation found a work so beautiful, he greedily grabbed it for himself.

Alexandr Kliment's Living Parallel is a novel about a man caught in an unusual love triangle. Mikuláš Svoboda loves Olga, an artist he fell in love with twenty years ago, when she was married, and who, now a widow, is in love with him as well. And he loves the Czech countryside, where in his heart he has sought refuge from the tedium of his worklife and from the shame of his accommodation to the communist system. Olga is moving to Paris, and Mikuláš must choose between his two loves.

Until now, Mikuláš, an architect permitted to design only high-rise buildings, has been able to lead a parallel life, turning his anger into indifference and seeking satisfaction in nature, aesthetic experiences, unrequited love, and ideals about architecture. He has lived in what he considers an oasis of the soul. But to get to this oasis, he has capitulated so often and so deeply, it is nearly impossible for him to make such an important decision.

Living Parallel is a contemplative novel about conflicts of conscience, in the spiritual more than the political sense, and it is therefore of equal relevance here and now as it was in Czechoslovakia under communism. It is a melancholic reflection on how to live so that one's life has meaning.

But most of all, Living Parallel is a work of beauty. It is filled with striking images, fresh metaphors, and colorful language. Kliment is so highly respected among Czech writers, that when we asked Ivan Klíma for a blurb, he sent an entire foreword. It is the author's artistry that makes this novel worth reading long after the political situation has improved.

Alexandr Kliment is the author of numerous novels, story collections, children's books, plays, and screenplays. Living Parallel was the first of his books to appear in English. Kliment lives in Prague.

Robert Wechsler is Publisher at Catbird Press. 

Ivan Klíma is a well-known Czech novelist, story writer, and playwright. Many of his novels and story collections have appeared in English.


$21 hardcover, 240 pages, ISBN 0-945774-51-6. Also available as an e-book.



Available free in three digital formats!



To read the first chapter of Living Parallel, click here.


From the Foreword by Ivan Klíma:

"Kliment's way of telling a story is very special and original. It consists of a continuous
alternation of motifs:  he jumps from intensely told episodes to lyrical passages
about the countryside, and then on to reflections about beauty, ecology, and baroque
architecture. He even tries to render dramatic moments in images that defuse their drama,
to render drama with the remoteness of a dream. … Kliment is one of the most interesting
and thought-provoking of modern Czech authors."





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