The Czech novelist found himself silenced by the communist regime at home, but achieved international fame with playfully philosophical fiction

Czech writer Milan Kundera, who explored being and betrayal over half a century in poems, plays, essays and novels including The Unbearable Lightness of Being, has died aged 94 after a prolonged illness, Anna Mrazova, spokeswoman for the Milan Kundera Library has confirmed.

Famously leaving his homeland for France in 1975 after being expelled from the Czechoslovakian Communist party for “anti-communist activities”, Kundera spent 40 years living in exile in Paris after his Czech citizenship was revoked in 1979. There he wrote his most famous works, including Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí (The Unbearable Lightness of Being) and later left behind his mother tongue to write novels in French, beginning with 1993’s La lenteur (Slowness) and his final novel, 2014’s The Festival of Insignificance. He was often cited as a contender for the Nobel prize in literature.

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