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Coetzee, Gordimer Defend Kundera

Diary of a Bad Year Beethoven Was One-sixteenth Black The Unbearable Lightness of BeingAlert! As widely reported, Nobel literature laureate Milan Kundera is under the cosh, having been accused of being a “denouncer” – that is, of aiding the Czechoslovakian secret police during Communist rule – by Czech magazine Respekt.

Now eleven prominent writers, including JM Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer, have sprung to Kundera’s defence, publishing a short letter, originally in French, that expresses “outrage at this orchestrated slander” and “affirms our solidarity with Milan Kundera”, one of “our greatest living novelists”.

Here’s the complete text of the letter in English, which was run under Coetzee’s byline in the Guardian:

An attempt has recently been made to stir up a defamatory campaign with the aim of sullying the reputation of Milan Kundera. He is accused of having denounced a western spy to the authorities in 1950, when he was a student in communist Czechoslovakia.

We note that Kundera has issued a categorical denial of these claims, and that a witness statement by an eminent Prague scientist clears him of any guilt. Too often, the press has spread this defamatory rumour without taking care to report the evidence refuting it.

This is nothing less than an effort to tarnish the reputation of one of our greatest living novelists on grounds that are, to say the least, dubious. We wish to express our outrage at this orchestrated slander and to affirm our solidarity with Milan Kundera.

John M Coetzee (Nobel prize)
Jean Daniel
Carlos Fuentes
Gabriel García Márquez (Nobel prize)
Nadine Gordimer (Nobel prize)
Juan Goytisolo
Pierre Mertens
Orhan Pamuk (Nobel prize)
Philip Roth
Salman Rushdie
Jorge Semprún

You can read the original French letter here, the original Respekt story in English here, and coverage of Kundera’s denial of the accusations here.

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