The narrator of Bohumil Hrabal’s latest novel has a one-track mind. He is a pint-sized waiter working in pre-war Prague – a latterday Tom Jones at once hedonistic, ambitious and morally bankrupt. I Served the Kind of England is an account of his bawdy adventures. It is course-grained, in questionable taste, and thoroughly entertaining.
Prague before the war is like Gomorrah before the brimstone. It is peopled by corrupt salesmen and arch-capitalists who believe that money is power and everyone has his price. Ditie, the narrator, is no exception. He spends all his time, and wages, buying favours and indulging his fetishes in the